New campaign to reduce harm to patients

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

The government has announced a new campaign to reduce harm to patients.

The new patient safety campaign is aimed at saving lives - with a focus on reducing harm in the areas of falls, surgery, healthcare associated infections and medication.

The campaign will be coordinated nationally by the Health and Quality and Safety Commission and rolled out regionally by District Health Boards and other health providers until mid-2015.

The campaign focuses on four key areas where evidence shows it is possible to reduce patient harm - falls, surgery, healthcare associated infections and medication safety. Each topic will be rolled out sequentially, with falls the first area of focus.

Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand figures show 360 people treated in hospital were either seriously harmed or died last year.

Of those 62 were in Auckland.

The figures showed 47 per cent of the 360 people were victims of a fall, 79 resulted in a fractured neck or femur.

Commission chairman Professor Alan Merry said workers in the health care sector needed to be open to continually striving to do things better.

"In our health and disability system, we have highly skilled, caring and committed doctors, nurses and other health professionals who usually succeed in delivering excellent care. Unfortunately, things occasionally go wrong, and we cannot afford either the human or the financial costs of avoidable harm."

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the campaign challenged health care workers to be open to acknowledging mistakes and learning from them, open to working closely with patients and consumers, and open to change, improvement and innovation.

"We know patients are still being harmed, sometimes with serious and long-term consequences.

"These events can have a devastating impact on patients and families. Even patients at the less serious end of the scale of harm can end up having a longer stay in hospital. There's also the associated extra cost to the health system," said Ms Goodhew.

- APNZ

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