Measures taken to reduce negligence in hospitals

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development has taken strong measures to reduce cases of negligence at its hospitals and improve the quality of care.

An inspectorate, improved training for professionals and dedicated obstetrics ambulances have been introduced in an effort to minimise adverse incidents in hospitals.

The move follows an investigation by the department, which shows that medical negligence cases have largely been reported in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and surgical units.

Most of these cases resulted in some patient suffering permanent disability and scarring and others needing future medical treatment, the department said on Wednesday.

According to the department, the inspectorate has developed new quality control standards and conducts peer evaluation in hospitals to improve quality of care, which has proved to be useful as health professionals learn from one another and share experiences.

More than 1 000 health workers have also been trained in obstetrics care including more than 900 in neonatal resuscitation.

"A total of 11 dedicated obstetrics ambulances were introduced last year to provide pregnant mothers with a service focused on their needs."

The department said it has also seen a decrease in number of medical cases settled in court from 13 in 2007/08 to six in this financial year.

The total amounts paid have also shown a decline from about R16 million in the 2007/08 financial year to R10 million in the 2009/10 financial year. Close to R3 million was paid in 2008/09.

To alleviate pressure on health professionals and improve working conditions, the department has further employed 1 178 nurses of different categories since April this year.

"A total of 1 084 medical specialists were employed in hospitals and attrition rate of permanent doctors has been reduced from 10 percent to 5.9 percent, giving hope that adverse incidents may be reduced further in the coming years," the department said.