Tuesday, 16 February 2010

NHS hospitals ignore patient safety orders

Watchdog says failure by trusts to comply with alerts is 'unacceptable'.

Hospitals were accused tonight of putting patients' lives at unnecessary risk after research revealed they were failing to comply with NHS orders designed to prevent deaths from mistakes involving drugs, surgery or equipment.

Information released by the Department of Health after a freedom of information request showed that hospitals were not complying with safety alerts issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).

The NPSA's chairman, Lord Patel of Dunkeld, told the Guardian that the behaviour of the trusts was unacceptable and endangered the health of patients.

"It's not good enough," he said. "What's the point of us developing these alerts if they don't pay any attention to them? Alerts are produced to reduce risk and hopefully avoid many deaths, so not to implement them to me is alarming. If they aren't implemented then they run the risk of harm occurring and the danger will continue."

The findings were from a FOI request submitted by patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA). It revealed that:

• 104 hospitals and other providers of NHS care in England have not confirmed they have implemented an NPSA alert issued in March 2007 to ensure that injectable medicines are used more safely – even though new systems are meant to be in place by March 2010. The alert came after 25 patients died and 28 others experienced serious harm in 18 months.

• 25 NHS organisations have not confirmed compliance with an NPSA safer-practice notice designed to reduce the risk of patients falling out of bed. It was issued after about 90 patients who rolled out of bed on to the floor in hospitals, mental health and learning disability units, fractured their neck or femur; 11 of them died.

• 81 hospitals and other care providers had not taken the "required actions" outlined in patient safety alerts covering opioid (painkilling) medicines. The alert was originally issued in July 2008 with a deadline of January 2009; the 81 had not complied by 29 December 2009.

• 10 NHS trusts have not said they have complied with a February 2005 alert on nasogastric feeding tubes, which can sometimes be wrongly placed into the lungs during insertion. Errors involving the feeding tubes caused at least 11 deaths before the alert came out, according to the NPSA...
Source: The Guardian.

Author's footnote: AFAIAA, that's the first time we've ever posted something from The Guardian. Is this because they don't show up on Google or because they don't like reporting this sort of thing?

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