Effective hospital monitoring system essential - Cohsasa

Jacqui Stewart

Jacqui Stewart

Published Apr 23, 2015


The staggering number of medical negligence claims in South Africa has made the need for an effective hospital monitoring system more important than ever, says the Council for Health Service Accreditation in Southern Africa (Cohsasa).

This month Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi shocked the healthcare industry by announcing that a plan was in motion to cap payouts to victims of medical malpractice, as various provincial health departments faced claims totaling billions of rands.

In the 2012/13 financial year, the KZN health department faced medical negligence claims totaling more than R992 million), Gauteng R1.286 billion and the Eastern Cape R875-million.

According to the minister, the reforms were aimed at preventing people from cashing in on lump sums and spending the money and later becoming a burden to the state when funds ran out.

Motsoaledi's announcement has raised concerns among industry insiders that it is not the patients who should be targeted, but the quality of service being administered at the country's hospitals.

About 50% of healthcare errors are considered preventable and with an estimated average of 10% of all in-patient visits resulting in some form of unintended harm, the need to tackle patient safety is clear.

Given the enormity of the amounts being paid out, Cohsasa, a non-profit, believes a revolutionary hospital incident reporting system known as PatSIS could well be the answer, not only to alleviate state coffers but improve services to patients across the country.

It was developed to systemise the reporting and monitoring of adverse events and near misses, so as to contribute to a high level of risk awareness in healthcare facilities and lead to pro-active system changes to decrease the probability of errors.

The programme is a multidisciplinary solution to adverse events and an alternative to the time-consuming, paper-based process that is currently used in many healthcare facilities. An incident reporting, monitoring and management system is primarily used for patient safety.

In 2008, the Australian Advanced Incident Management System (AIMS) was implemented in 24 facilities in the Free State Province to support the Province's patient safety programme. The programme demonstrated tangible benefits and additional facilities were enrolled over time.

In 2012, the Free State programme was entered into the Centre for Public Service Innovation Awards, where it achieved second runner-up position.

However, AIMS was discontinued in 2013. Cohsasa developed PatSIS to replace AIMS. The new programme, a health care incident reporting system, was designed specifically for conditions in developing countries.

PatSIS is a medical incident management system that consists of two parts: A computer programme that records information about adverse events and near misses, and a call centre operated by professional healthcare staff to collect data on incidents.

"The benefit of PatSIS and the call centre model is that staff are encouraged to report incidents and near misses. This allows trends to be identified and preventative steps to be put in place," said Cohsasa acting CEO Jacqui Stewart.

"Many incidents happen because of systemic problems, such as stock outs or delays in giving patients treatment. If healthcare staff make genuine mistakes they need to learn from these not be punished. However negligence or malpractice must be dealt with."

Some of the benefits of PatSIS include reduced litigation, improved patient safety and quality of care, increased patient satisfaction, reduced number of complaints, staff morale boost.

Related Topics: