A new law that requires all hospitals to report errors and mistakes to a central database is set to be introduced at the start of April.
This new law arrives to try and stem the claims that some hospitals are covering up mistakes – including fatal errors – by misleading patients with information. There are concerns that on some occasions, deaths are being reported as being caused by unavoidable circumstances, when in reality error or mistreatment is to blame. In figures reported today, it is said that around 500,000 patients are harmed in some way by NHS operations, with 30,000 of those ending in official complaints. Of those, around 6,000 are taken up legally, with victims making medical negligence claims.
The law will change for hospitals on April 1st, meaning that they will have to meet set standards of safety and quality. The Care Quality Commission will monitor these standards, as well as provide a centralised database which all hospital errors must be reported to anonymously.
In 2009 a figure of £870 million was paid out by the NHS for medical negligence claims for compensation. That figure could rise dramatically after the new law is introduced, as there is strong evidence to suggest that a majority are not aware that compensation is available to them.