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Aeroplanes safer than hospitals, says health chief.

PEOPLE are far more likely to die from medical errors than on an aeroplane, the Chief Medical Officer for England said yesterday.

Sir Liam Donaldson said that more needed to be done to cut mistakes as well as the risks from hospital superbugs like MRSA and Clostridium dif ficile.

And he said that hospital operations should be standardised in an effort to improve patient safety Sir Liam, who is part-time chairman of the World Health Organisation's World Alliance for Patient Safety, said healthcare was already "a high risk environment" due to the complex nature of providing care and making decisions based on human behaviour.

That environment could be made safer, he said, but added: "The problem is that you are not getting improvements in surgery in leaps and bounds and the situation has been static for too long. You need to move that in the right direction.

"In some areas of medical and surgical practice, you should be standardising to one way of doing things, particularly where there's known to be variation in procedure and a high risk of complications or errors."

One example of error was wrong-site surgery, where a person may have the wrong body part removed by mistake, he said.

Keeping to standardised procedures may be "tedious and boring" but would cut mistakes and could be applied on a national and international level, he said.

Almost one million lapses in patient safety were recorded in 2004/05.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 7, 2006
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