Report shows serious outcomes from poor hospital follow-up care

2 September 2013
A Queensland report outlining complaints of patients deteriorating in hospital has shed a light on the common problems many patients and families face from insufficient monitoring and follow-up care during their hospital stay.

Maurice Blackburn medical negligence specialist Sarah Atkinson said it was a common misconception hospital incidents were largely caused from procedures going wrong, but a report today from the Health Quality and Complaints Commission (HQCC) confirmed poor follow-up or post-operative care also played a key role in adverse outcomes for patients.

"Poor or negligent care is not only limited to what happens during a procedure or diagnosis - in many cases it is a lack of follow-up or monitoring after a procedure while someone is still in hospital that leads to serious long-term problems for patients," Ms Atkinson said.

"This includes where hospital staff fail to realise there are issues with a patient's recovery until it is much too late and further damage has been done.

"We've acted in many cases where patients have pressure building at an injury site post-surgery or develop a serious infection and a lack of monitoring and communication then means this isn't picked up or acted on.

"Families often also experience great frustration when they raise concerns about a loved one's recovery and these aren't acted on, and this is particularly distressing if that then leads to a more serious outcome for the patient.

"Today's report shows that of the 172 complaints of clinical deterioration received over a three-year period in Queensland, 43 per cent of complainants suffered injuries rated either 'major' or 'serious'.

"The report also found many complaints related to patients failing to be properly diagnosed at emergency departments, and suffering further consequences as a result.

"Sadly, many hospitals still have a way to go in ensuring proper follow-up care is provided while a patient remains admitted and after they've been discharged," she said.

The HQCC report is available at: http://www.hqcc.qld.gov.au/News/Pages/Spotlight-on-clinical-deterioration.aspx