New figures released by the HSE state that there were almost 107,000 adverse incidents reported to them last year. The figures also show that in the past five years, almost 500 people suffered an adverse incident that resulted in long-term or permanent disability and that in the same period, there had been over 3,140 deaths due to adverse incidents. The figures are for HSE hospitals and services but do not include voluntary hospitals.


In 2022 there were 550 deaths associated with an adverse event. Of the cases reported last year, just over 9% were categorised as a near miss, with over 45% resulting in no injury. Just under 10% of cases resulted in an injury requiring medical treatment.


HSE Response to Adverse Incidents Report


Responding to the figures the HSE said that the increase in the number of reports is more likely to reflect an improvement in reporting culture than an increase in the number of incidents. It also said that the health service is treating significantly more patients, with the most recent figures available showing 3.5 million outpatient and 1.8 million inpatient or day cases attendances over a 12-month period.


The HSE further explained that staff are encouraged to report all near misses and incidents, even those that do not result in harm. Every incident is identified, reported, and reviewed so that there can be learning from events and this can then be shared to improve the overall quality and safety of HSE services.


How Can We Improve Outcomes?


According to David O’Malley, Joint Managing Partner, it was important to identify the causes of these events and to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to improve patient safety. “The numbers are stark and show that the amount of people seeking justice for wrongs occasioned against them or loved ones is still minimal compared too the amount of potential medical negligence incidents. The only true way to reform healthcare law is to learn from the mistakes instead of the recent culture of blaming victims and lawyers. It is encouraging that medical practitioners are reporting incidents but the next step is to cut out the systemic causes and openly advise patients of the errors. In my experience so many clients are not even advised that an error occurred and it takes years of litigation to uncover the facts. The fatal incidents from adverse events are also worryingly high in a population of our size”


If you, or someone you know has been affected by and adverse incident in a healthcare setting you are welcome to contact David O’Malley and our Medical Negligence team at our offices across the country.