Primary care drives up error reporting rates

Experts say the increase reflects an improved reporting culture, not a rise in mistakes.

A 25 per cent rise in medical errors reported in primary care reflects a more rigorous approach by practices and other providers, NHS leaders say.

The rise in incidents reported by primary care organisations (PCOs) in England and Wales to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) outstripped the NHS-wide rise of 7 per cent.

In the six months from October 2008 to March 2009 almost 50,000 reported errors occurred in a primary care setting and 203 primary care patients died.

More than 1 per cent of the mistakes in primary care resulted in a patient's death or severe harm and 7 per cent caused moderate harm.

In 92 per cent of cases, however, the patient was unharmed or only slightly harmed.

NPSA chief executive Martin Fletcher said that the increase in reports was a good thing: 'These data are sound evidence of an improving reporting culture across the NHS. Front-line staff are more likely than ever to raise safety concerns much more openly.'

Care Quality Commission chief executive Cynthia Bower said the watchdog would check up on trusts with low reporting rates.

Low-reporting PCOs include Brighton and Hove City PCT, Enfield PCT, North Tyneside PCT and the former Ceredigion and Vale of Glamorgan local health boards.

South Tyneside PCT reported higher error rates than any other PCO. PCOs with inpatient provision, such as South Tyneside, generally had higher error rates.

North East Essex PCT had the highest reporting rate for a PCO without inpatient facilities.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'Primary care is getting better at reporting incidents. It is not actually getting worse.

'Practices are being actively encouraged to report, which is a good thing. This may be a sign that PCOs are making it easier to report. If the exercise is a learning experience rather than a blame culture, that will encourage practices to report.'

Error reporting
Leading sources of primary care errors
  • Patient accidents: 31.3%
  • Medication errors: 13.2%
  • Access, admission, transfer, discharge: 12.4%
  • Implementation of care and ongoing monitoring/review: 7.7%

Source: NPSA

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

The Coronavirus Crisis: Our 'Thank You' to all healthcare teams

The Coronavirus Crisis: Our 'Thank You' to all healthcare teams

The medical staff at Haymarket know how hard you are working from our daily contact...

GPs barred from speaking out about PPE shortages

GPs barred from speaking out about PPE shortages

GPs in parts of the UK have been banned from speaking out publicly over concerns...

Practices to work through Easter bank holidays in coronavirus outbreak

Practices to work through Easter bank holidays in coronavirus outbreak

GP practices will be expected to remain open during the Easter bank holidays in response...

Zero hours deal to guarantee death-in-service rights for locum GPs

Zero hours deal to guarantee death-in-service rights for locum GPs

Locums will be guaranteed full death-in-service rights during the coronavirus outbreak...

GPs demand clear advice amid 'life-threatening' shortages of PPE

GPs demand clear advice amid 'life-threatening' shortages of PPE

GPs have demanded clear government advice on how doctors should approach high-risk...