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NHS hospital patient deaths due to errors up 60% in England

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The number of patients who have died in hospital as a result of incidents including medical errors and healthcare-acquired infections has risen by 60% since 2005, according to government figures.

Figures obtained in an answer to a parliamentary question asked by Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley showed 3,645 people died in English hospitals in 2007-2008, up from 2,275 in 2005-2006.

Of these, 309 died as a result of an infection control incident, 171 in an accident, 22 as a result of abuse by hospital staff or third parties, and 14 as a result of mix-ups with forms and patient records. Fifty-four died as a result of a medication error and 385 as a result of a treatment or procedure.

All of these incidents had increased since 2005, although the figures, published by the Department of Health from the National Patient Safety Agency reporting and learning system, do not record whether the numbers increased because of better reporting.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Norman Lamb said most of the deaths were ‘avoidable and completely unacceptable’. He added: ‘We need a complete culture change so that every part of the NHS has systems in place to ensure patient safety.’

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