Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Avoidable deaths are “biggest scandal in global healthcare”

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has responded to a study revealing that 1,000 patients die unnecessarily in hospitals each month as the “biggest scandal in global healthcare”.

The study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has revealed that 1 in 28 deaths are due to poor hygiene, inattentive monitoring, incorrect diagnosis or the prescription of wrong medication. Mr Hunt proposes to introduce measures to cut the number of hospital deaths by ranking NHS Trusts based on the number of needless deaths in their hospitals.

However there are many critics of Mr Hunt’s reaction; suggesting he is jumping the gun with these findings. Academics have pointed out that recorded mortality ratios are a measure of how many excess deaths there are in a hospital compared with the nation average; the records do not provide data to show which of those deaths could have been avoidable.

Helen Hogan, one of the authors of the paper, has said herself that “there are lots of reasons that hospital mortality ratios stand out. The trouble is that could be with the quality of inputting hospital operations into a computer rather than the quality of hospital care”, she went on to say “a case review of patient notes is really the only way of making decision about quality of care”.

Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England, released a statement saying “the findings provide us with useful additional insight and show we need to look at a whole range of methods to measure health care quality … I have long argued for more relevant and transparent measures of individual service within hospitals”.

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