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Over 3,000 fatalities caused by accidents within the HSE since 2018
Coleman Legal LLP
August 21, 2023
New HSE data reveals 3,000 deaths from 480,000 incidents since 2018, highlighting falls, assaults, and medication issues. Calls for reforms and investment grow as incident numbers peak in the last year.

Fresh data reveals that since 2018, over 3,000 patients have lost their lives as a result of incidents within the HSE.

Newly released data by the HSE has documented over 480,000 incidents with the potential to cause harm across hospitals and community healthcare units since 2018. These incidents encompass a range of issues, including falls, assaults on patients or medical staff, medication-related problems and adverse reactions to medical equipment.

The number of such incidents reached 106,967 in the previous year, the highest figure among five years of recorded data. This was a rise from the 94,422 cases reported in 2018. Although approximately half of these yearly incidents resulted in no injuries, the statistics reveal that last year, 0.65% (equivalent to 556 cases) culminated in fatalities.

The Saolta hospital group, which encompasses healthcare facilities in the North West region, witnessed the highest number of hospital-related incidents. The data was released following a parliamentary question by Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín.

Tóibín called for a thorough investigation into the upsurge in incident numbers and underscored the necessity for comprehensive reforms and increased investments to rectify the ongoing crisis. He noted that the evident understaffing within the healthcare system creates substantial risks.

He additionally cautioned against the potential financial repercussions, noting that over the past five years, the State Claims Agency has disbursed approximately €1.4 billion in compensation related to “adverse incidents” within the HSE.

A representative from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) emphasised that while these figures are strikingly high, they come as no surprise due to the constant levels of overcrowding within the system.

This overcrowding, when combined with understaffing, makes accidents likely. Anne Dowling, a consulting legal nurse at AMA Healthcare, highlighted the mounting pressures staff and patients face.

She advocated for a shift in the prevailing culture, emphasising the necessity for a blame-free atmosphere that tackles adverse events head-on. Dowling emphasised the need for diligent recording and analysis of incidents to implement effective control measures and ensure a thorough response.

A HSE spokesperson has claimed that the rise in reported incidents is more likely indicative of an improvement in the reporting culture rather than an actual increase in such events. They stressed that, within the healthcare context, a low number of reported incidents tends to be a cause for concern and that the HSE’s figures align with global standards.

If you or a loved one have been affected by an HSE-related incident, contact Coleman Legal LLP for confidential advice. Our experienced solicitors will guide you through your legal options and provide support.

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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

F: 1800-844-104
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