Patient safety remains one of the most prominent issues in health policy and public debate. High rates of errors during the delivery of medical care have been demonstrated repeatedly, including the landmark report by the Institute of Medicine which estimated that more people die from medical errors than from traffic injuries or breast cancer.
Two types of patient safety event can be distinguished: sentinel events that should never occur such as failure to remove surgical foreign bodies (e.g. gauze swabs) at the end of a procedure; and adverse events, such as post-operative sepsis, which can never be fully avoided given the high-risk nature of some procedures, although increased incidence at an aggregate level may indicate a systemic failing.
The HCQI collects internationally comparable data on both types of event. At present, patient safety HCQI include rates of:
- retained surgical device or fragment
- post-operative wound dehiscence
- post-operative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
- post-operative sepsis
- obstetric trauma
Data and related information for these indicators are available here
Work on patient safety HCQI is underpinned by a continuous programme of research and development to improve international comparability of these indicators.
Health Care Quality Indicators