Significant rise in ‘extreme’ incidents involving harm to patients

A spokesperson for the HSE said the number of reported incidents has increased year on year since 2004. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/ RollingNews

Eilish O'Regan

The number of notified “extreme” and “major” incidents involving serious harm to patients and others in hospital has risen significantly in recent years, new figures reveal.

Reported “extreme” incidents, which can involve death or permanent incapacity, rose from 373 in 2017 to 579 last year.

The number of cases classified as “major”, where there is long-term disability or incapacity, climbed from 46 to 82 in the same period.

“Moderate” incidents, when there is a patient injury involving medical treatment, also increased from 9,219 in 2017 to 13,563 last year.

Minor incidents, involving injury or illness needing first aid, also increased over the same time from 9,210 to 15,483.

The figures, involving patients, staff, visitors, contractors and the public, were released by the HSE in response to a parliamentary question from Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.

The reports were made to the State Claims Agency (SCA) which runs the National Incident Management System where hospitals log adverse incidents involving patients, staff and others.

Most do not result in a legal claim but a number do and need a compensation payout which could run to millions.

A spokewoman for the HSE said: “It is HSE policy that all incidents are identified, reported and reviewed so that learning from events can be shared to improve the quality and safety of services.”

“The number of reported incidents has increased year on year since 2004 with a significant increase noted since 2015, with the introduction of the National Incident Management System.”