Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Mistakes caused 61 hospital deaths

Serious medical mistakes have caused the deaths of 61 people at western Sydney hospitals over the past two years, according to internal Health Department documents.

The reports, obtained under Freedom of Information, reviewed medical errors at western Sydney hospitals and found most of the avoidable deaths were due to delays in responding to a rapidly deteriorating patient.

In three cases last year, surgical material or instruments were left inside patients.

The Opposition's health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, says the findings are disturbing.

"I know that people are dying in hospitals through avoidable causes because this has been partly reported," she said.

"But the extent of this is really shocking and I think Reba Meagher has got some answering to do today."

Professor Steven Boyages from the Sydney West Area Health Service says there are lessons that can be learned from the errors.

"How do we address the issue is the key lesson that we have to take away from these individual cases," he said.

Health Minister Reba Meagher is not commenting on the report's findings.

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