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Calls for Public Disclosure of Hospital Complications Data in Australia

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care says an unacceptable proportion of hospital admissions are associated with an adverse event such as a botched surgery or medication mishap, but this information is not disclosed to the public, writes Sydney Morning Herald. Sentinel events, worst cases resulting in patient deaths or permanent disability as a result of treatment error, are also not disclosed.

According to the Productivity Commission’s 2019 report on public services, dozens of such mishaps occur in Australia’s public hospitals each year – but the details of which facilities they happened in are not made public.

Sydney Morning Herald also reports consumer advocates and public health experts are calling for the publication of hospital complication rates, but see a national database as likely to be years away. The Grattan Institute health economist Stephen Duckett said while sentinel events were rare, hospitals should make public what happened and how they responded to – and learned from – each mishap. Less-rare complications such as infection rates should also be published in a searchable national database.

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