Sunday, December 14, 2008


Bizarre accidents and deaths in hospitals

By Simon Benson, Daily Telegraph

December 10, 2008 12:00am

AT least 80 people have died in western Sydney hospitals over the past two years - many needlessly - according to secret reports obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

And hundreds more have died across the state in bizarre accidents, mis-diagnosis, delays in getting treatment or suicide whilst in care.

The reports, tabled in State Parliament last week, said the number of unexpected deaths and serious incidents had increased by 20 per cent since 2005 for the Western Sydney Area Health Service alone.

Some involved operations on the wrong patient or wrong body parts being operated on.

In one case, a 17 year-old girl was turned away five times from a hospital. She later died of an undiagnosed brain tumour.

The report said a major theme in unexpected deaths and serious incidents - listed in the reports as root cause analysis (RCAs) - was "delay in recognition and management of the patient."

"The major driver for this (20 per cent) increase in 17 RCAs, which resulted from procedures carried out on the wrong patients or body part, the majority of which occurred in imaging," a 2007 report from SWAHS said.

"In RCAs where the outcome was death, the management of the acutely deteriorating patient remained the major trigger for performing the RCA."

A second report for the Greater Western Area Health Service showed at least 30 deaths in some regional hospitals. Only two other area health services reported RCAs but did not include overall incident numbers.

The remaining four area health services refused to produce reports on the number of patients death or incidents, claiming they had no legal obligation to do so.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said the number of preventable deaths across the state would now number in the hundreds.

"These secret reports reveal more than 120 deaths in hospitals across NSW in just two years," Ms Skinner said.