Friday, October 19, 2012

How Kiwis deal with medical error

Robin Youngson, an anaesthetist, reports:

Here in New Zealand we have a national, tax-payer funded, no-fault compensation system for healthcare error. The average time between making a claim and getting a decision on compensation is FIFTEEN DAYS (yes, you read right). There is no need to even name an individual practitioner because system failure is recognized. Also, all hospital treatment is free to all residents of NZ so there is no worry about the cost of treatment needed to put right the effects of healthcare error. It doesn't entirely eliminate defensive medicine but you can't sue a doctor. An independent commission assesses all patient complaints and can lead to sanctions against both individual practitioners and hospitals. There is mandatory reporting of all sentinel events nationally and a much more open culture of addressing patient safety issues.

Dr. Youngson was intimately involved in helping establish Compassion in Healthcare, and organization analogous to the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center in the U.S.  Here's more:

In 2006 Dr Youngson with several like-minded people set up the Compassion in Healthcare Trust in New Zealand. Trustees came from a diverse range of backgrounds and are all passionate about making a difference. Compassion in Healthcare was not a place to take our patients in for care but was a virtual meeting place for those who seek to connect with others striving to strengthen compassion in healthcare.  The Trust raised charitable funds and gathered resources to support programmes in our hospitals that begin to put the heart back into caring.

Pioneers in a number of countries are starting to connect and there is a powerful sense of a growing movement in many parts of the world. We believe the leaders we need are already in place to support this change in many different places. If we align our efforts we can transform healthcare from within.


Unknown said...

Paul, thanks for sharing my viewpoint from New Zealand.

Yes, I set up the Compassion in Healthcare Trust in 2006 but we have moved on a long way since then.

In 2012 we launched a new global, international movement called HEARTS in HEALTHCARE.

This inspirational community brings together all health professionals, students, patient advocates, health leaders and many other supporters who are passionate about re-humanizing healthcare and strengthening compassion and caring.

You can find us at

Paul Levy said...

Thanks, Robin!