Eventually, we all need to visit a hospital to undergo a procedure where an anesthetic is required. Most of us have a trouble-free experience, but some people have a very bad reaction to general anesthetic that has potentially fatal consequences. Other people suffer near fatal episodes that are a great worry for themselves and their families. Most cases, where a patient reacts badly to an anesthetic are unfortunate, but unavoidable. In other cases, serious errors in judgement put patients at even more risk.
Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge’s university hospital has recently been scrutinized because of the decision made by an anesthetist to allow surgery to continue when a patient suffered a cardiac arrest when under anesthetic. The quality of clinical care is questionable because of the obvious risks of operating on someone who, in many people’s eyes should have had their procedure postponed. Anesthetist, Doctor Rama Krishna Rao Rebbapragada is under investigation since the incident, but no reaction has been forthcoming.
A report Released in early 2013 contains information accusing Stafford hospital of playing a part in the death of between 400 and 1200 patients that would still be alive if standards of care had not dropped to unacceptable levels. Managers are blamed for trying to hit efficiency targets at the cost of sufficient standards to maintain a previously well-run Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust. Strangely enough, the man in charge of the NHS, Sir David Rain, was actually in charge of the trust that controlled Stafford hospital at the time these failings were at their height.
Reform in the NHS
Queens Counsel, Robert Francis led the report that will pave the way for NHS reform and more accountability within sections of each trust. Managers are currently able to push blame from person to person, but under the new recommendations, managers in NHS hospitals will be directly responsible for how they manage their department. They are to be accountable when failings are evident. Previously, medical negligence was more commonplace than most would like to admit. A culture of fear, after failing to meet targets, was to blame as managers had budgets and efficiency figures continually tightened.
Hygiene under the Spotlight
Hygiene has been a well-publicized problem in NHS wards, brought to attention when patients spending time in hospital, became infected by a superbug. This often led to prolonged periods where patients had to be isolated to prevent the spread of the bug. Although the infection does not necessarily result because of medical negligence, certain hygiene procedures would usually make sure suitable care to prevent such cases.
The Root of the Problem
Although hygiene issues are often considered a lower level problem addressable by re-evaluating budgetary constraints, many pro-NHS doctors are blaming senior managers for operating private practices and billing the NHS for their services as a contractor. This could throw up instances where senior managers are misusing their power for personal profit. With managers under greater pressure to make the correct decisions, budgets could be spent where they are most needed following Robert Francis QC’s report.
Negligence at all Levels
It seems as though people have been turning-a-blind-eye to the way our hospitals have operated for many years, but this will not continue for much longer as our NHS hospitals face the biggest shake-up since the sixties. Consultants will not be able to take advantage of their position within a trust to bill for their own services and we can expect lower consultancy costs because of improved competition. Eventually, expensive compensation claims against NHS Trusts because of failures by senior and lower level staff should drastically reduce in numbers. Despite these moves, many believe the shift to a private healthcare system in the UK is inevitable, as NHS spending will continue to be a problem.
Bill Jobs is a blogger who writes about advances in medicine and concentrates on how patients should apply for medical negligence compensation if they have suffered because of a procedure they had done.