Senator reveals post-surgery medical error

Senator Stirling Griff was readmitted to hospital after getting the wrong drugs after major surgery.
Senator Stirling Griff was readmitted to hospital after getting the wrong drugs after major surgery.

A senator has revealed he was re-admitted to a hospital emergency department after being given the wrong post-operation drugs following major surgery.

South Australian crossbencher Stirling Griff's experience prompted him to question what the federal government was doing to reduce medical errors.

"The re-admission was due to significant bleeding which the ED doctor stated was due to me being given the wrong combination of post-op drugs," he said in Question Time on Wednesday.

Liberal frontbencher Michaelia Cash, who represents Health Minister Greg Hunt in the Senate, said hospitals risked having funding cut if they were at fault for complications.

That money is used by state or territory governments for safety and quality improvement programs to support clinicians to improve patient outcomes.

"Things can go wrong and ongoing work is needed to reduce the impacts of adverse effects on Australian patients and their families," she told parliament.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017-18 about 185,000 - or about two per cent - of people experienced preventable complications in hospitals.

Senator Griff also questioned why doctors and nurses did not have safe maximum working hours, saying many errors occurred when staff were hungry, angry, late or tired.

Senator Cash said safety in hospitals was primarily a state government responsibility, but the Commonwealth jointly funded the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Australian Associated Press