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Cost of claims for injuries caused by medical treatment double

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The latest ‘treatment injury’ data released by ACC shows that the cost of claims for new and existing treatment injuries have more than doubled in the last five years from $70 million to $142.5 million, placing some real figures against concerns that our hospitals are becoming increasingly unsafe.

The report released on Thursday last week, shows the most common type of injury as a result of receiving treatment in our hospitals, are infections. In the 2016/17 financial year ACC accepted 1,875 infection related claims, costing the nation $16,859,463.

The challenge with the data however, is that it only shows infections resulting from medical treatment such as surgery, IV-lines and procedures such as mole removal, because these figures can be tracked as injury claims from accidents.

The data we don’t have are figures around infections contracted from being vulnerable and in hospital, where viruses and drug-resistant bacteria are incredibly dangerous and in some cases fatal to these people, and becoming more prevalent.

Overall, the ACC numbers show infections in hospitals are trending upwards, and our DHBs aren’t equipped to deal with the growing issue.

There are workforce capacity issues, in particular New Zealand has less than 100 infection prevention and control nurses across the country, an inefficient and unsustainable infection management process, and a lack of meaningful data to make on the spot and rapid decisions.

The Supporting Treatment Safety report is the second of a series of data to be released by ACC, and shows a total of 9,900 claims for injuries caused as a result of medical treatment were accepted in the 2016/17 financial year (up from 8,881 in the 2015/16 year). The claims this year alone have a lifetime cost of $602 million (up from $418m last year).

As stated in the report, the majority of these injuries are considered preventable, and is why the data is being released. The report aims to inform investment in prevention, and support health professionals and clinical teams to prevent the same harm from occurring again.

ACC have committed to investing $45 million in treatment injury prevention, including infections, with an aim to significantly reduce the unsustainable costs of treatment injury claims.

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