While a new report has slammed the public hospitals in Queensland, Australia as virtual death traps, the state government has reacted strongly, saying the report lacks credibility. As many as 49 persons were were mistakenly killed or seriously injured said the Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services 2009.
The report details "sentinel events" - or preventable serious medical errors - in each state during 2006-07.
Queensland recorded the largest number of people killed or maimed, accounting for more than a quarter of the national total.
The incidents included 33 cases where procedures were done on the wrong patient or body part, six cases where a medication error killed a patient and four cases where mothers died in child birth.
Three patients were returned to surgery because an instrument or other material was left inside them during an operation, two patients committed suicide while admitted to a hospital and one person was transfused with incompatible blood.
Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle labelled the hospitals ''death traps'', pointing to the report.
He said after 11 years in power, Labor had not provided a safe health system in the state.
"Queensland hospitals are overcrowded, under resourced and despite the best efforts by doctors and nurses, too many people have suffered.
"Doctors and nurses have not had support from this Labor government who have refused to admit this health system is in crisis," McArdle said.
But the government and the Australian Medical Association have queried the findings, saying the data was two years old and impossible to compare between states.
Queensland Health economist Stephen Duckett said 29 of the 33 procedures on the wrong body part resulted in no harm to the patient.
"It's just so unfair," Mr Duckett said. "I suspect the other states have not reported those so-called near misses."
Acting Health Minister Andrew Fraser said the states couldn't be easily compared as Queensland's reporting system was more transparent. "To fix an issue you need to know about it," Mr Fraser said.
AMA Queensland president Chris Davis also was sceptical of the data.
Dr Davis said judging the health system on a report from 2006-07 was inexcusable.
"If I were a patient going into a hospital I would want to look at data no older than three months, and there's no reason why that shouldn't occur."