HSE sued over 27 deaths since 2006
THE health service has been sued by the families of 27 patients who died since 2006 due to alleged medical negligence, new figures reveal.
The 27 fatalities were among 2,068 deaths due to different incidents, including natural causes, which were logged by hospitals under a confidential reporting system over that time.
Ciaran Breen, head of the State Claims Agency, which collects the reports and is responsible for handling claims, said an adverse incident is not always the cause of death and patients can have serious underlying conditions.
He was speaking as a new report showed 85,918 adverse events were logged into the confidential central database by staff in hospitals and other parts of the health service last year.
The State paid out €81m in compensation in 2011 arising out of legal actions linked to errors which led to patients or other users of the health service suffering harm.
Slips, trips and falls made up nearly one in three of the incidents reported in 2011 and accounted for 27,541 reported accidents, some of which can have severe effects, particularly for elderly patients.
Dr Philip Crowley, the Health Service Executive's director of quality and patient safety, spoke about the recent high profile concerns involving patients who received the wrong operations. He said an examination of guidelines for hospital staff found they were not being fully complied with.
This led to the HSE involving the Royal College of Surgeons to re-visit the guidelines and promote their use by hospital staff, to reduce the chances of errors happening.
Further statistics revealed that errors in medication made up one in 12 incidents, affecting 6,633 patients.