Basic errors by doctors in British hospitals are killing up to 1,000 patients a month, a new study has found.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that almost 12,000 patients are dying needlessly in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals every year because of basic errors by medical staff.
The researchers of the study found that something went wrong with the care of 13 per cent of the patients who died in hospitals, and error only caused death in 5.2 per cent of these, equivalent to 11,859 preventable deaths in hospitals in England.
“We found medical staff were not doing the basics well enough – monitoring blood pressure and kidney function, for example. They were also not assessing patients holistically early enough in their admission so they didn’t miss any underlying condition. And they were not checking side-effects… before prescribing drugs,” The Independent quoted Helen Hogan, who led the survey, as saying.
In one case a middle-aged man, who had a cyst on his neck removed developed an infection, was treated with antibiotics but medical staff did not realize he was not responding until it was too late and he died.
The study was based on analysis of 1,000 deaths at 10 NHS trusts during 2009. Previous estimates have suggested up to 40,000 deaths a year are caused by errors in care but these have been based on international studies and have not directly linked the errors with the cause of death.
“Hospitals must learn from careful analysis of preventable deaths and make every effort to avoid [them],” Hogan added.
The survey reportedly found that every one in 10 hospital patients suffered harm as a result of errors in their care, ranging from short-term effects from a wrong prescription to severe harm resulting from an operation on the wrong limb.