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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 451..

MR MULCAHY (continuing):

government feels it needs changes, amend the legislation. We have got excellent models in Victoria now that are working and getting drugged drivers off the road. Mr Speaker, the percentage of fatalities on the roads of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia where drivers had an illegal amount of alcohol in their system fell from 33 per cent in the period from 1990-93 to 26.7 per cent from 1997-99.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice


MR SMYTH: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Minister, a sentinel event in a hospital is one of the following adverse events:

    1. procedures involving the wrong patient or body part;
    2. suicide of a patient in an in-patient facility;
    3. retained instrument or other material;
    4. intravascular gas embolus resulting in death or neurological injury;
    5. medication error leading to the death of a patient;
    6. maternity death or serious morbidity associated with labour or delivery; and
    7. infant discharged to the wrong family.

In the 2004-05 year, there were nine sentinel events in ACT hospitals. When this became public, you told the Canberra Times that:

... we have a lower rate than many other jurisdictions ...

However, our rate of sentinel events per 100,000 is 2.7, as opposed to the rate in New South Wales of 0.46 per 100,000 and the rate in Victoria of 0.6 per 100,000. Why is the rate of sentinel events in the ACT hospitals so much higher than in New South Wales and Victoria?

MR CORBELL: I have sought explicit advice on this issue. It is quite clear from that advice that the rate of sentinel events in other jurisdictions, in particular New South Wales, in terms of reported events, is clearly underreported. There is clearly a significant underreporting of the level of sentinel events. That is well recognised by health administrators around the country. It is simply not believable to say there have been only 30 sentinel events in a health system that serves a population of approximately six million. It is simply not believable. We do not accept the level of reporting that occurs in New South Wales.

In contrast to New South Wales, here in the ACT we are able to keep very close tabs on the level of sentinel events. We are able to have a very accurate reporting mechanism, which is simply not something that exists at the moment in a large jurisdiction such as New South Wales.

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