DHBs face treatment infections rise

Photo: RNZ/123rf.

District Heath Boards are ill-equipped to deal with the rising number of infections resulting from medical treatment, a health watchdog says.

An ACC report found the overall cost of claims for treatment-related injuries had more than doubled in the past five years.

It showed that in the year to the end of March 2017, ACC accepted more than 1800 infection-related claims, costing nearly $17 million.

The report also found the overall cost of claims for treatment-related injuries had more than doubled in the past five years.

Waikato DHB had the largest increase in infection-related claims - from 80 infections per 10,000 patients in 2013 to 209 in the year ending March 2017 - a 160 percent increase.

Infections New Zealand said the data showed a growing level of risk in hospitals, which it said was caused by low staffing levels and inefficient management processes.

It’s calling for more investment in prevention and better support for health professionals.

But infectious diseases specialist Richard Everts said the figures could be attributed to an increase in high-risk operations.

"For example, we are doing more and more prosthetic heart valve, prosthetic knee and hip replacements, and insertion of vascular devices for blocked aorta and leg arteries, breast implants, mesh for hernias, et cetera," Dr Everts said in a statement.

"The more operations we do that involve inserting foreign material in the human body, the more infections will inevitably occur."

He said an ageing population could also be a contributing factor.

"There are more and more people getting operations in New Zealand who are old, overweight, diabetic and on immune-suppressant medications. These are all risk factors for post-op infection," he said.

"But as long as New Zealanders want to be surgically patched up so they can live longer and more functional lives then a certain number of these people will get an infection."


2 Comments

Real infection control problem

Posted on 24-05-2018 14:07 | By lpm67

If they really want to know whats happening come talk to me, I am a semi retired nurse (hospital trained) and I can tell them chapter and verse all the problems that are occurring, whats really changed and what needs to be done to fix.

@Dr. Everts

Posted on 11-05-2018 14:47 | By morepork

"...the more infections will INEVITABLY occur". It isn’t INEVITABLE. If the object inserted is properly sterile and the room and people in it are properly sterile, if the implements being used are properly sterile, then there is no need for infection to occur. (Many successful operations where infection does not occur, bear this out.) It is shameful in this day and age that we have patients actually dying of septicemia, which would be more properly associated with hospitals in the Crimea or the Somme. The problem needs to be addressed (proper procedures, more staff to implement them, etc.) and NOT just dismissed as being inevitable.

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