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Nurses reporting more accidents

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Nurses are increasingly taking an active role in patient safety monitoring, the Royal College of Nursing has said in response to latest figures revealing a significant year-on-year increase in the number of incidents being reported in the NHS.

Figures released last week by the National Patient Safety Agency showed that, in the six months to October 2010, a total of 547,879 incidents were reported by trusts in England, compared with 473,162 for the same period the previous year.

“Patient accidents” – including slips, trips and falls – remain the most common kind of incident accounting for 29% of all those reported, followed by medication errors (11%), and incidents relating to treatment or procedures (10%).

Royal College of Nursing head of nursing Steve Jamieson said: “Nurses are more acutely aware of monitoring all this and reporting it in a structured way, and having real systems and processes in place for reporting.

“Even 12 months or two years ago, while those systems were in place, they weren’t used in the best possible way. We’re seeing a lot more nurses taking responsibility for reporting accidents,” he told Nursing Times. “They know if they report these incidents, something will be done about them.”

Among the trusts with a higher than average rate of patient accidents was NHS Dorset, where 856 such incidents were recorded in the six-month period, accounting for 71% of all incidents.

A spokesman said the trust had “robust” recording processes in place and that a “falls lead” was working across community hospitals in the area to identify at-risk patients.

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