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GPs top complaints figures

A freedom of information request by the Waikato Times has revealed that between August 2010 to July 2012, 362 separate health providers were complained about in the wider Waikato region.

Complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner included delays in treatment, wrong site surgery, misdiagnosis, unexpected outcomes and poorly co-ordinated care.

Of the 362 complaints, 214 were made about group providers, such as medical centres and hospitals. The remaining 148 were made against individual registered and unregistered providers.

362 separate health providers were complained about in the wider Waikato region

The complaints figures included:

  • GPs – 37
  • Dentists – 20
  • Physicians – 10
  • Orthopaedic surgeons – 9
  • Midwives – 9
  • Nurses – 6
  • Psychiatrists – 5
  • Other – 52.

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners chief executive Helen Morgan-Banda said GPs were at the forefront of primary medicine and saw, on average, more patients than other medical practitioners.

The region’s public hospitals received the most complaints for a group provider with 104, followed by medical centres (25), rest homes (21) and accident and emergency clinics (7).

This builds on the Commissioner’s Annual Report (2011) which identified treatment as the primary issue in half of all complaints received.

Source: Waikato Times

Inquiry into hospital death

The police are investigating the death of a patient after surgery at Wairau Hospital last year.

Detective Sergeant Jason Hillgrove, of Blenheim, reported they were in the very early stages of investigating the death at the request of the coroner. This investigation is being completed alongside an investigation by the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The patient’s family went to the Health and Disability Commissioner within three months of the death last year and the commissioner accepted the complaint after a meeting with them. Health board chief medical officer Heather McPherson said the board had started an investigation after it received a complaint from two women who had surgery at Wairau Hospital in December 2010 and February 2011.

The investigation was prompted by two cases of a “known but uncommon complication” during the same procedure within a relatively short time

Changes for reporting a death to the coroner

The Ministry of Justice has ushered in changes to the coronial services unit, affecting how doctors should report a death to the coroner.

Doctors should no longer ring their regional office to report all deaths from around the country during the week, and direct all calls to the Coronial Services centralised National Initial Investigation Office (NIIO) using 0800 266 800 to report a death to the coroner on a 24/7 basis.

The following sudden deaths should be reported:

  • If it was without known cause, suicide, unnatural or violent 
  • Where a medical certificate of the cause of death cannot be issued
  • If it occurred during or as a result of a medical, surgical or dental procedure 
  • If it occurred while a woman was giving birth 
  • If it occurred while the deceased was in custody.

For more information contact: www.justice.govt.nz

Doctors should no longer ring their regional office to report deaths

Patients unaware of true cost of surgery

A survey by Southern Cross Healthcare Group found that most New Zealanders are unaware of the cost of elective (non-urgent surgery).

According to the healthcare group, only a third of the 2,000 New Zealanders surveyed believed they had an understanding of how much three common surgical procedures cost.

Those who indicated they did have an idea were asked to estimate the cost of those surgeries in the private sector – the majority cited prices that were a small percentage of the real cost.

  • 21% believed the cost of a knee replacement was $2,500 or under (actual cost $19,000) (including prosthesis), only 15% of people estimated that this procedure cost more than $15,000.
  • 27% believed the cost of a hip replacement to be under $5,000; 45% suggested it was between $5,000-$15,000 (actual cost in excess of $18,250). 
  • Though 28% believed a single cataract replacement cost under $1,000, 37% believed it cost between $2,000 and $5,000 (in excess of $3,500).
It is highly likely New Zealanders are going to be asked to fund an increasing portion of their non-urgent healthcare costs in the future

The survey found that those from higher income households tended to have a better understanding of the cost of healthcare.

Southern Cross Healthcare Group CEO Ian McPherson said: “Already around half of all elective surgeries are funded privately. As the population ages, it is highly likely New Zealanders are going to be asked to fund an increasing portion of their non-urgent healthcare costs in the future in order to keep the country solvent.”

Source: Southern Cross Healthcare

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