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hospital deaths: treat them like road deaths « Previous | |Next »
January 16, 2006

There is a consensus on what kind of reforms Australia's buckling health system needs. Those needed include significant integration of federal and state responsibilities; finding alternatives to hospital treatment since the rate of hospitalisation in Australia one of the highest in the world; and breaking open the doctors' closed shop to allow more health to be delivered by other professionals.

PettyVH6.jpg
Bruce Petty

The preferred reform pathway of the centralizing administrators is the commonwealth taking full financial responsibility for healthcare. That magic bullet is not politically feasible under the Howard Government as John Howard has consistently ruled it out.

What is rarely mentioned in the reform talk od the centralizing administrators is the number of hospital patient deaths. Yet these number around 5000 per year due to unintended errors and accidents. This is more than road deaths (around 3000 p.a), yet government agencies work to prevent the disclosure of death and injuries in Australia's hospitals due to poor or negilgent medical practices.

Strange isn't it.

The bureaucratic silence I mean.
Newshealth.jpg It's a case of hiding the problem. It is a public problem though, just like road deaths, and consumers of health care services, as well as those who work in the health system, are deserving of a safer hospital system.Yet it appears that injuries and deaths will continue to increase in public hospitals and that reform moves for a national mandatory requirement to report doctors to medical registration boards, health departments and consumer groups will continue to be blocked.

Aren't citizens entitled to be informed of important health care information without unreasonable delay? Indirectly, we citizens own most health care research in Australia because it is predominantly funded by our taxes and it is our health that is at stake. Should not health reform include a culture of honest reporting?

If it is mandatory for hospitals to report fatal and serious illness sustained as a result of rare and preventable circumstances, then it should also be mandatory for the Minister to reveal this information to the public. Health deaths shoudl be treated just like road deaths.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:19 AM | | Comments (0)
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