In Australia, about one in ten patients suffer harm as a result of being in hospital or because of the treatment they receive rather than from the disease or injury which brought them there in the first place. A smaller proportion actually die as a direct consequence of being hospitalised.
Tens of thousands of patients a year are affected and the statistics haven’t improved much in 50 years.
What’s most concerning is that between 50 and 80 percent of these ‘events’ are preventable.
So, what can be done? UTS Law academic, David Carter’s collaborative research focussed on a ‘novel’ idea – ask the patient.
Working with fellow UTS academics, James Brown, from the Faculty of Science and Carla Saunders, from the Faculty of Health, David looked at how healthcare harm and errors are invariably interpreted from a professional and technical point of view.
David says with the patient and the public rarely included in the process, their values and expectations are excluded.
What the Australian public expect is quite different to much of what actually happens in response to error and harm. The public expect that regulators support hospitals to ‘do better’, but they also expect rigorous inspection regimes. For example, unannounced or ‘snap’ inspections. This is not currently how hospital quality is managed.
The research paper provides an interesting perspective on how the quality and safety of the care provided in our hospital system might improve if ‘The Patient’s Voice’ is actually heard.
David J Carter, James Brown and Carla Saunders, ‘The Patients Voice: Australian Health Care Quality and Safety Regulation from the Perspective of the Public’ (2018) 25(2) Journal of Law and Medicine 408.
David Carter’s research focuses on the regulatory practice of health law, public health law and criminal law.