Complications account for one in 15 hospital treatments

ONE in 50 hospital treatments arise from complications with earlier care, such as with surgery or medicines.

NHS data published yesterday revealed 326,000 courses of treatment in one year were as a direct result of complications.

Overall, 95,930 complications – 29 per cent of the total – involved patients suffering an adverse affects from the drugs used in their treatment.

Another 5,050 – 2 per cent of the total – involved "misadventures" during surgical and medical care while 3,690 – 1 per cent – involved adverse incidents relating to medical equipment used in diagnosis or therapy.

Most of the complications – 221,150 or 68 per cent of the total – involved patients suffering abnormal reactions some time after undergoing surgery or another medical procedure.

The provisional data, released by The NHS Information Centre, is for England and covers July 2008 to June 2009.

The 326,000 courses of treatment represent 2 per cent of the 16.3 million courses of treatment carried out by the NHS during this period.

This is a slight rise compared to the previous year when 295,000 – 1.9 per cent or one in 53 – of the 15.6 million treatment courses resulted from complications.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: "Provisionally it appears one in 50 hospital episodes involve a complication and two thirds of those arise at some point following a surgical or medical procedure.

"It is important to note that complications can occur as a result of a patient's physical reaction to treatment that was not able to be predicted, rather than arising due to any fault of the medical professionals involved."