Mercy Hospital, in Dunedin, is the first private hospital
in New Zealand to start reporting its mistakes to the
Government's Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC), chief
executive Richard Whitney says.
Mercy was a voluntary "early adopter" of a drive to pull
private healthcare providers in to annual reporting with
He would not say how many reports the hospital had made since
it started about seven months ago.
This week, in its executive summary to the 2011-12 "serious
and sentinel" events report, the HQSC said future years would
include a section on private healthcare.
He did not expect private providers to be named in next
year's report, but acknowledged that if no other facilities
volunteered to join Mercy, it might be obvious where reports
were from, Mr Whitney said yesterday.
He warned to expect resistance from other private healthcare
providers, and said some would only provide reports if they
Many feared how the information would be used, and whether it
could turn into a media "witch-hunt".
Mercy asked to join the system because of its "conviction"
that a culture of "open disclosure" should be encouraged.
"If [the HQSC] use us as a reason why they go hard on the
others, then I think that would be unfortunate."
The HQSC had been "pleasantly surprised" by Mercy's request
to start reporting.
He suggested other private providers would be watching the
development with interest. Any "negative consequence"
perceived by the sector would be proof for some providers
that reporting was not worth the risk.
Private hospitals were likely to have fewer adverse incidents
than public hospitals as their surgical work was elective,
rather than urgent, he said.
The commission wants to capture aged care, home help,
ambulance care, and hospices in future reports.
New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Martin
Taylor said he supported the initiative in principle, but the
sector would need support and plenty of time for its
Staff would need significant additional training to ensure
they corrected coded events.
It required standardising the public and private sectors,
which "sounds easy but it's not".
The sector was already under considerable pressure in the
next couple of years with the rollout of InterRai, an
electronic needs assessment tool.
Otago Southland Aged Care Association board member Malcolm
Hendry said the reporting system would reveal how few adverse
events occurred in the aged care sector. An orderly system
for reporting adverse events would provide much-needed
context, as at present one-off cases of neglect gave a skewed