170 ‘avoidable deaths’ in hospital surgeries every year

As many as 346 patients die in surgeries every year – and half this number could be avoided. The shock findings came in a preliminary report issued by the Portuguese association of operating theatre nurses (AESOP), and reported in Correio da Manhã newspaper.
AESOP’s “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” project tracked patients in 24 state hospitals. The association’s vice-president Manuel Valente explained that it discovered between 0.4% and 0.8% of surgeries every year result in death. These percentages translate into between 199 and 346 people dying on operating tables every year.
“Some of these deaths (estimated at up to 50%) could be avoided,” writes CM, “as they result from hospitals’ “incapacity to systemise an adequate practice”.
Contributory factors are “the lack of available professionals, accumulated exhaustion or the lack of adequate professionals at the adequate moment”.
AESOP’s findings were presented at last weekend’s national congress of theatre nurses, which took place in Estoril.
Cardiologist José Fragata is quoted by CM as saying that only 6% of errors committed in operating theatres are ever reported – and the majority of these reports come from nurses.
Fragata also revealed that “the lion’s share of mistakes in hospitals take place in surgical blocks”.
As more and more specialised nurses leave the country for better paid jobs abroad, CM reports that 4,775 operations per 100,000 inhabitants take place in Portugal every year.
The number of surgeons per 100,000 inhabitants is just 43 and the number of anaesthetists only nine.