Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hospital errors - more details necessary

The Straits Times carried a disappointingly brief report about the reporting of hospital errors. A total of 401 errors over the last 7 years (since 2002); 339 of which was from public hospitals and 62 from private hospitals.

The fact that reports had been made compulsory by the Ministry of Health is an important one, and the Ministry should be given full credit for biting the bullet on this issue. But the question is why the need for secrecy here? This data is not found on the MOH website, and not in the public domain (unless I have been looking in the wrong places). If not for ST's report on this issue, we would not know. But ST's report is somewhat tentative and 'kiasu', for it says something, then goes silent. Why, for example, does it not report of the trend of such occurences over the last 7 years? Is it going up or coming down? These numbers should be reported for each hospital, and denominated by the hospital size so we know which hospital runs a tighter ship where error mitigation is concerned.


Paul Ananth said...

Actually, this is a little complicated as I think that the hospitals which report more sentinel events are likely to be the hospitals which are more alert to detecting and learning from such events. There are ample data to support this.

I do not think that the public will be able to appreciate this. It is a bit like needlestick injuries - when there are no needlestick injuries reported, then I worry that detection systems are not working

gigamole said...

I won't dispute that. But assuming the compulsory reporting evens out the reporting compliances then the incidences of errors across hospitals may give us an idea.

If on the other hand, the compulsory reporting is not taken seriously and exists for just cosmetic reasons, then the MOH should be pressurized to do something about it. Prosecute a couple of offenders, fine a couple of hospitals...and make the system work.