Quality & Patient Safety

UK: Patients Association urges NHS to make reporting mandatory

Patient Safety Monitor: Global Edition, March 31, 2009

After a highly criticized report of one Stafford hospital led the Healthcare Commission to brand the facility "appalling," the Patients Association has urged the National Health Service (NHS) to make the reporting of adverse events necessary, according to BBC News. NHS trusts are not currently required to report errors to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). Opponents say a voluntary reporting system is leading to insufficient data collection.

The NPSA started to collect data in 2003 for NHS trusts to learn from medical mistakes, but 32 out of 391 NHS trusts in England and Wales did not submit enough evidence to be included in the latest data. In the first year of collecting data, more than100 errors were reported every three months. Now, about 250,000 errors are reported in the same time period.

Despite the increase in reporting, the NPSA is reluctant to compare trusts’ performance due to a suspicion of under-reporting, which they say makes comparing trusts' performance difficult. According to BBC News, the Healthcare Commission said there were deficiencies at "virtually every stage" of emergency care at Stafford Hospital in Stafford, UK.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that "the NPSA is working with us and many other stakeholders to agree on a single central definition and criteria for reporting serious patient safety incidents,” according to BBC News.

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