13 incidents involving suicide revealed

The Southern District Health Board has reported 13 incidents of suicide or attempted suicide in the past financial year by people it had cared for.

A report published last week by the Health Quality and Safety Commission identified 21 "serious adverse events" by people accessing the Southern District Health Board's mental health and addiction services.

The board has since broken down that figure, saying 13 of the 21 incidents were suicides or attempted suicides.

James Knight, the Southern District Health Board's mental health, addiction and intellectual disability medical director, said the frequency of serious adverse events was too low to discern a statistical pattern.

"Eight of these events occurred within 28 days of discharge from hospital," he said.

The mental health, addictions and intellectual disability services dealt with some of the most vulnerable people in the community and health professionals strived to keep patients safe while they received treatment, Mr Knight said.

Any reported events had already been investigated and improvements in providing care had been implemented or were under way, he said.

"If someone dies or is harmed while receiving treatment, the DHB investigates the care provided, to see what can be learned from it and how we can improve our processes and care in the future."

Nationwide, the report revealed there were 177 cases of serious adverse events, with 134 mental health patients taking their own lives between July 2012 and June. Of those, 122 were outpatients.

The national report relied on voluntary reporting from all DHBs nationwide.

Mr Knight said the number of adverse events per capita reported by each DHB would be influenced by the hospitals culture of incident reporting.

"Southern DHB mental health, addictions and intellectual disability service believes that it has a strong culture of adverse event reporting."

The Southland Times