Medical ill treatment complaints rise

Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014

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Complaints of ill-treatment by doctors and nurses have risen dramatically in the past year, as the Health and Disability Commissioner's caseload threatens to overflow.

Commissioner Anthony Hill said he had received 1619 complaints in the last financial year, 12 per cent more than expected. Of those 60 had led to inquiries, and breaches were found in 42 cases.

"We are actively considering why these complaints are going up as dramatically and seriously as they are," Hill told a health select committee hearing at Parliament yesterday.

Complaints had increased by 25 per cent in the past five years. They were overwhelmingly about treatment, followed by communication, professional conduct, and consent or information given.

While most stemmed from district health boards, followed by GP care, complaints about mental health providers were rising the fastest, and had almost doubled since 2007.

Hill put the rise in complaints down to heightened visibility of the Health and Disability Commission, and people being more likely to know how and where to complain.

There was no evidence to suggest the rise was due to a systemic drop in healthcare quality, Hill said.

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- The Dominion Post

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