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Hospitals should be encouraged to improve the recording of medical errors on their systems, say researchers at Dr Foster, an independent organization that analyses the availability and quality of healthcare in the United Kingdom and worldwide, in this week's British Medical Journal.
About 850,000 medical errors occur in NHS hospitals every year, resulting in 40,000 deaths.
Researchers looked at four years of English hospital statistics to examine patterns in the recording of adverse events and ask whether this routinely collected source of data could be of use in monitoring this problem.
They found, on average, 2.2 percent of all episodes (about 27,500 per year) included a code for an adverse event. Misadventures were mentioned in 0.03 percent of episodes (nearly 4,000 per year). Events were more likely to occur in men, in elderly people, and in emergency admissions.
Although adverse events using routine data may be under-recorded, this analysis has shown that adverse events are recorded within hospital episode statistics, say the authors. For these statistics to accurately monitor adverse events, hospitals should be encouraged to improve the recording of events on their systems, they conclude.
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Source: British Medical Journal