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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

release medical error data

Media Release

Shadow Health Minister
Thursday January 19, 2006

Labor should follow the lead of other States and release medical error data

Shadow Health Minister Sue Napier today called on the Lennon Labor Government to reveal how many people have died or been made seriously ill due to medical errors in public hospitals.

Mrs Napier said that in recent days, other Labor States have been willing to provide this information in the interests of public transparency, and there was absolutely no justification for Labor concealing these figures which are clearly in the public interest.

In WA, it was revealed last week that 68 people died or were left seriously ill in WA hospitals over the previous two years due to medical errors.

In NSW, figures released showed that the number of serious accidents in hospitals over the previous year was less than 0.03 per cent of total admissions.

Victoria and NSW publicly release Sentinel Event data, and the Queensland Premier Peter Beattie was reported late last year saying that such performance data should be released.

Mr Beattie told the Australian Financial Review: Some are opposed to it, but frankly, the public have a right to know.

A June 2005 report of Anaesthesia and Intensive care estimated the number of patients harmed in the health care system was between 10 per cent and 12 per cent.

Mrs Napier said she hoped that the well-documented stresses and under-resourcing in the health system did not mean Tasmania’s level of medical errors was higher than the national average, and it was incumbent on the Lennon Labor Government to explain whether or not this was the case.

“The Lennon Labor Government seems to think it has a God-given right to decide what the Tasmanian public is allowed to know, and what it isn’t it’s latest cover-up on hospital waiting lists is just further evidence of that.

“Well that is just not good enough.

“As Mr Beattie said, the public has a right to know about what goes on in its public hospital system, which provides a service that is a matter of life and death.

“I demand the State Labor Government inform the Tasmanian community what the medical error rate is in Tasmanian hospitals, and what the State Labor Government is doing to prevent adverse medical errors, given that as well as the hugely traumatic impact that medical errors causing injury and even death cause for victims, this problem is a very expensive one for our health system and added expenses are the last thing our cash-strapped health system needs.”

For more information, please contact:
Georgia Warner (03) 6233 2370 or 0418 564 073


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