The Irish Times view on HSE investigations: Off target

The fact the HSE is so far off meeting its own targets in relation to reporting and investigating things that go wrong is extremely worrying

HSE chief executive Paul Reid. Just 2 per cent of investigations into serious incidents were completed by the HSE last year within the required four months, according to the figures provided to Fianna Fáil. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

HSE chief executive Paul Reid. Just 2 per cent of investigations into serious incidents were completed by the HSE last year within the required four months, according to the figures provided to Fianna Fáil. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

All well-run organisations make mistakes, but they also respond quickly and learn from these errors. CervicalCheck, Dr Gabriel Scally noted in his landmark report on the screening service last year, was “doomed to fail” because of its many structural, governance and communications deficits. And fail it did, spectacularly; a year on from the original controversy over a botched audit, fresh errors are still coming to light in its communications with women.

But what of the wider Health Service Executive (HSE), which has, since the CervicalCheck controversy, committed itself wholeheartedly to open disclosure? What are we to make of new figures that show most serious incidents in the health service are not reported upwards, or investigated, within target time-frames?

The fact the HSE is so far off meeting its own targets in relation to reporting and investigating things that go wrong... is extremely worrying

Just 2 per cent of investigations into serious incidents were completed by the HSE last year within the required four months, according to the figures provided to Fianna Fáil. Meanwhile, 35 per cent of serious incidents, which involve harm or death to patients, were notified within 24 hours, as required, to a senior, accountable member of staff.

Half of all incidents are entered into the HSE’s electronic database within the required 30 days. Whether these incidents were preventable or not, they need to be investigated so repeat events can, if possible, be avoided. Prompt inquiry also ensures complaints and litigation can be dealt with more quickly.

Hospitals and other centres of healthcare delivery are busy places, and it may not always be possible for staff to report incidents immediately. In an organisation as large as the HSE, there are clear difficulties in ensuring uniform practice across the system. But the fact the HSE is so far off meeting its own targets in relation to reporting and investigating things that go wrong, and appears to have relaxed a target on the carrying out of mandatory investigations, is extremely worrying. It also appears to show it is still some way off becoming a properly patient-focused, transparent organisation.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.