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Treatment injuries taken seriously

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

More than 80 patients were injured during treatment at Wairarapa Hospital for the 2015/16 year, the latest ACC data has revealed.

During that time, there were 86 accepted ACC claims for patients who were injured while being treated at the hospital, placing the District Health Board as the highest in New Zealand for treatment injury claims per 10,000 discharges.

But Wairarapa’s chief medical officer says this high figure was a result of the DHB reporting treatment injuries, “no matter how small the issue is”, in the interests of the patients.

For every 10,000 discharges, Wairarapa presented an equivalent of 90.90 treatment injury claims, compared with Auckland DHB which had 38.53 treatment injury claims per 10,000 discharges.

The data was recently released by ACC in its Supporting Patient Safety Treatment Injury Information report, but it was noted that direct comparisons between DHBs were not meaningful, due to different case-mix and context.

And while the high number of treatment injuries in Wairarapa may come across as alarming at first, Wairarapa DHB chief medical officer Tom Gibson says otherwise.

“The ACC treatment injury pathway is patient-focused and provides an opportunity for our clients to benefit,” he said.

“Our position is to ensure we do whatever we can to benefit the Wairarapa patient at all times, no matter how small the issue is.

“As such, Wairarapa DHB claims for treatment injury whenever possible, for things as minor as a slight inflammation around a wound site post-surgery.”

He said reporting treatment injuries benefited Wairarapa patients as, if it is accepted by ACC, the costs relating to that injury would be covered for the patient.

In 2012 Wairarapa DHB put a greater focus on submitting ACC claims to better serve local patients, Dr Gibson said.

“That spotlight on making claims led to a significant spike in treatment injuries reported in this DHB.

“All of a sudden, the data pattern shows an escalation of treatment injuries, which can skew perceptions for those who don’t understand the detail.”

In 2011, Wairarapa made less than 40 claims and then 80 claims in 2012.

Dr Gibson said the change in reporting proved DHB staff were claiming correctly, “and our patients are getting the benefits of those claims”.

“The important thing to focus on, is that Wairarapa Hospital has had no serious injury claims.

“We train our staff well in the ACC process and ensure we claim whenever possible so that our community can access the benefit of the ACC provisions.”

The Supporting Patient Safety Treatment Injury Information report is designed to provide a transparent record and a baseline of treatment injury claims in New Zealand.

“Due to inconsistencies in how ACC treatment injuries are reported and submitted across the country, the data is difficult to compare and graphing information across DHBs does not come with an easy to absorb narrative,” Dr Gibson said.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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