Friday, 16 November 2012

Shanghai health bureaucrats to be held accountable for errors

The local health bureau will start calling in senior hospital administrators after major medical errors occur to find out what went wrong and what can be done to make sure they don't happen again, local media reported Wednesday.
The policy, which will begin as a pilot program next month, is the latest effort by the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau to lower the rate of medical errors in the city.
It marks the first time that local health authorities are involving senior hospital administrators with issues related to medical errors, said Song Guofan, a press officer with the health bureau. "By calling in their senior administrators, the new policy will put more pressure on hospitals, thus making them pay more attention to preventing medical mishaps," Song told the Global Times.
Under the policy, the bureau will meet with hospital chiefs following a major medical error to discuss what caused it, how to punish the personnel responsible and how to insure it doesn't happen in the future, according to a report on the news website and a press release from the bureau. Authorities will also dispatch officials to make sure the changes are implemented.
Major medical errors are incidents that cause a patient's death or lead to a severe physical disability. They include leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient's body, operating on the wrong part of a patient and prescribing the wrong kind of medicine, according to the health bureau's website.
Local authorities last published figures on medical errors in 2007, when 149 cases were reported, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The health bureau took on the issue of medical errors two years ago when it began doling out administrative punishments to hospitals.
Under that policy, a hospital department can be shut down if more than two medical errors occur within 12 months, so long as authorities determine that department personnel are "majorly responsible" for the error. In such cases, doctors and nurses can lose their licenses to practice.
The health bureau will inform hospital chiefs five days in advance before the meetings, according to the bureau press release. If administrators fail to show up to the meetings, their hospitals will forfeit their rights to apply for awards and honors for three years.

Read more: ECNS

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