NHS Paperwork Improvements 'Needed For Better Patient Care'

Discharge Paperwork Errors Are Putting Patients' Lives At Risk

08.09.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Errors with paperwork within the NHS are leading to the health and safety of patients being compromised, indicating that significant improvements are needed.

NHS England has released a report revealing that 10,000 mistakes were made during the past year with regard to paperwork when patients were discharged from hospital, which later led to further health problems - in extreme cases, these proved fatal.

Examples of paperwork errors leading to care issues include one terminally ill patient's notes including no information relating to end-of-life care, while other incidents involved new mothers being discharged without midwives being informed, meaning they did not receive vital home visits to assess theirs and their babies' health. In addition, notes on medication and dressings were omitted for many patients.

Overall, 15 per cent of all discharges investigated by NHS England were deemed inappropriate, as treatment had not been completed, patients' home care needs had not been assessed or it was very late in the day.

One in ten cases saw patients being readmitted to hospital as it was realised they were too ill to have been discharged, while in one case, an individual passed away on their journey back to the hospital.

Speaking to Pulse magazine, deputy chairman of the GP committee of the British Medical Association Dr Richard Vautrey explained discharge paperwork errors are often due to information not being passed on to GPs, meaning they are not properly informed of how they should be treating a patient's needs.

Therefore, there are calls for changes to handovers between hospitals and GPs to improve not only communication between the two parties, but also the care of patients.

Dr Vautrey commented: "It would be good if a single organisation like NHS England can develop some standardised way of ensuring that there is timely flow of information from hospitals to practices - it's usually that way round that causes the problem.

"What we'd want is some clear and robust encouragement to ensure that information is flowing in a timely way and it's as user-friendly as possible."

Expert Opinion
Patient care and safety should always be a top priority within the medical services industry and that means ensuring records are kept up-to-date, completing discharge information and taking steps to prevent administrative errors from occurring. In our work we have seen the devastating impact of the above failings on the health and safety of patients, often meaning appropriate care plans for those with specialist needs cannot be implemented.

“It is vital NHS Trusts take the findings of this report into account and conduct thorough investigations into paperwork errors within their facilities. We hope that any failings will be quickly identified and corrected and patients reassured that procedures are in place to ensure their care is not negatively impacted by administrative errors, which can have fatal consequences for patients in some cases."
Julianne Moore, Partner