Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Hospital enacts new incentives for safety

A draft federal bill by the Ministry of Health would criminalise negligence and mandate in-house investigation of patient deaths.

ABU DHABI // Tawam Hospital in Al Ain announced a new patient safety programme yesterday amid national concerns about medical errors. "With thousands of deaths each year around the world due to preventable medical errors, patient safety can no longer be pushed aside," said Steve Matarelli, the chief clinical officer at Tawam.

Posters have been put up around the hospital and text messages sent to remind staff of basic safety procedures such as washing hands, checking medication sell-by dates and watching out for errors. The hospital is to give out awards to departments that best comply with these safety measures. Among them is the hand hygiene award, to create an incentive for staff to wash their hands regularly. A hospital investigation found the most common reasons for non-compliance were that staff simply forgot, did not realise the need because their hands did not look dirty, or that they did not have enough time.

The best catch award is for "near misses", where a staff member steps in to prevent someone else making a mistake. The hospital has identified 20 such incidents. Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi announced earlier this year that it was introducing procedures to reduce human error. Every patient will have their medical information reviewed by the registration clerk, the nurse and their doctor. In addition, the hospital is to publish a performance report.

"If there is human error, there is someone to recognise that," said Scott Strong, the hospital's chief executive. With the performance report, "the hope is that other healthcare organisations will follow suit and the public can know what to expect." At the end of last year the Federal National Committee reviewed a draft law designed to reduce medical errors. It was submitted by the Ministry of Health, which manages hospitals and clinics in the Northern Emirates, and would allow for criminal sanctions to be brought against doctors for medical negligence. In addition it calls for the setting up of a committee in each hospital to investigate any death that occurs there.

Some FNC members were highly critical of the level of preventable deaths in the health system. "I feel the ministry does not even achieve its own aims to prevent unnecessary deaths," said Salem al Naqbi, a member from Sharjah, at the FNC's December meeting. "If they follow good procedures this will definitely affect the unnecessary rate of death." An investigation is under way into the death of a seven-year-old girl who died after a routine tonsil operation at Kalba Hospital.

More than 200 nurses were dismissed from Al Mafraq Hospital in August after failing to pass competency tests designed to check their ability to follow procedures. "I've been trying to teach them the basics, like wash your hands," Gail Smith, the chief nursing officer, told The National last summer. The dismissals were controversial. The sacked nurses are having their cases heard by the Court of Appeals, with a decision expected by the end of the month. Indian and Philippine administrative bodies have ordered a freeze on applications to the hospital for jobs.

The draft law will apply to all emirates if enacted. There have been complaints, however, from doctors and senior health officials that it is unclear and contains gaps. The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi also intends to tighten its regulations to curb medical errors. "The health authority is revamping all health regulations, beginning with priority areas such as patient safety and reducing drug errors," said Dr Oliver Harrison, the director of the public health and policy division.

Any change in regulations would have to adhere to the federal law, if the legislation passes. amcmeans@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Walter Zenga is one win away from claiming silverware for the first time in the UAE. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga seeks early retribution at Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup final

A victory over Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup final will help prove the Italian has turned around the fortunes of the capital club.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National