Adverse events reporting in English hospital statistics: Vague numbers are being perpetuatedBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7470.856-b (Published 07 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:856
All rapid responses
Glenross has questioned the veracity of adverse event statistics.
The Australian & USA researchers undertook a thorough review to
ascertain why they had different figures... their conclusion was that they
used different definitions and that serious adverse events were similar.
Research in New Zealand, Canada, UK, and other countries have all
found figures in the 10-15% range, with approximately 35-50% of those
being highly preventable.
The above research retrospectively looked at case notes, not what was
coded. Often adverse events were not noticed or acknowledged and therefore
not coded. Hence, the systematically researched studies detected much
higher levels of medical injury than coded databases.
The medical injuries mentioned in the letter involve
"2.2% of all hospital episodes that CONTAIN MENTION of an adverse event."
What it should say is, "2.2% of all records in the hospital episodes
database CONTAIN A CODE for an adverse event.
The systematic research did not include medical injury that was not
noted in case notes... meaning that the actual rates are likely to be
Deaths resulting from highly preventable medical injury occur in
approx 1:350 admissions. That puts living in hospitals for a few days at
the top of risk activities in modern society. [1,2,3,4]
Given the compelling evidence of harm, and the increasing doubts
about the claimed benefits of modern medicine and medicines, some brave
economists are even beginning to develop models that question medical care
for trivial issues. 
 Will More Doctors Increase or Decrease Death Rates?
An econometric analysis of Australian mortality statistics
Professor Jeff Richardson
Director, Health Economics Unit, Centre for Health Program Evaluation,
Dr Stuart Peacock
Senior Lecturer, Health Economics Unit, Centre for Health Program
Evaluation, Monash University
ISBN 1 876662 573
Member of NZ Ministry of Health working Group on managing & reporting medical injury in NZ.
Competing interests: No competing interests