Health care errors cause 1,000-plus deaths a year

Up to 1,700 people die in Switzerland every year due to medical accidents in health care centres, according to figures released this week.

Health care errors cause 1,000-plus deaths a year
Photo: AFP

The numbers were released by Patient Safety Switzerland (Patientensicherheit Schweiz) as part of a public awareness campaign to highlight problem areas in Swiss medical care.

Precise figures appear to be hard to come by but the estimates show between 700 and 1,700 deaths occur due to such errors annually, PSS said.

The organization is urging that more efforts be made to reduce the likelihood of such mistakes.

It identified problems with post-operative infections contracted in hospitals, errors in medication, mistakes with samples and laboratory results, wrong identification of patients and communications snafus.

In the case of basic care, PCC said the most elevated risks are linked to the process of administering and sorting medication, the giving of a diagnosis and the supervision of patients in surgeries.

The organization, supported by the federal public health office, organized a week of action to promote best practices to reduce errors.

Representatives of the group have been travelling across Switzerland in a Volkswagen bus to major centres where they have been spreading the message in hospitals, health clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. 

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