Is New Zealand Third World? “Cost-cutting surgeons are using hardware tools in our hospitals” Just Like Moldova

DIY tools are being used in cash-strapped NZ hospitals

A little while ago the New Zealand Listener published an article about hospitals using the types of tools than could be purchased from hardware stores.

“Low standards and budget pressures” in New Zealand’s hospitals have been found to be “driving surgeons and sterile services to break the rules and put patients at risk.”

The practice is supposed to be illegal, however necessity is the mother of invention – and when a hospital is strapped for cash what else is it supposed to do?

The story is now available on-line and you can read it here.

Loss of Skills and Knowledge

Here are some tweets from the journalist who wrote the article. Note the comment about there being a “loss of skills and knowledge” that resulted in unsafe practices:

McAllen writes:

…some district health boards (DHBs), in an attempt to cut costs, have been substituting inferior hardware-store equivalents for surgical-grade medical instruments. Technicians in sterile-services departments around the country have leaked documents and photos to the Listener showing that home-grade tools have been used in place of medical devices in surgery, sidestepping regulations and potentially endangering patients. Hospitals are also failing to list medical devices on an official database that keeps track of them in case of product recalls or safety concerns.

Meanwhile, there have been many instances of single-use devices being sterilised and reused contrary to manufacturers’ specifications. And some DHBs have been using instruments made in-house that were found to be inadequate.

One technician from a lower North Island hospital says hardware-store items can be reused, but the substandard metals often can’t withstand the rigours of a sterilisation process that can reach 134°C. “I have seen several of these items that, after one wash, had rusted terribly or had paint chipping off. I’m sure no patient wants to be operated on with items like that.”… read on

New Zealand often boast about having one of the cheapest health systems in the world.

Every year there are hundreds of avoidable deaths in the country’s hospitals. For example, in 2013  Eunice Richardson, 80, died after she was given Trimethoprim, a bacteriostatic antibiotic for a urinary tract infection when she was recovering from hip surgery. She was wearing a MedicAlert bracelet warning about her severe reaction to Trimethoprim, and each page of her documentation bore a large orange sticker warning about her allergy. “She was very particular about it and making sure that every doctor knew about it,” her husband Laurie Richardson said. She lost 60% of her skin to massive swollen blisters and died in pain in her husbands arms.  Her death prompted nothing more than an apology from the Canterbury District Health board chief executive David Meates. source

Many Kiwi patients say their health system is not held accountable when things go wrong. For example. Lynne McKay’s life was ruined for years by multiple hip replacements that left her in agony. “What really hurts” the former registered nurse said “is that our health system still fails to hold anyone responsible.” source

What a shame that the New Zealand government can’t see that under-funding (which we’ve been writing about for years at has resulted in it also being a third-world system, and that patient health, safety and wellbeing is being compromised as a result.

Understandably, there is also a reluctance to release data on hospital morbidity, in the past investigative journalists have had to use the Official Information Act to get the data …

“Several hundred lives would be saved each year if some of New Zealand’s highest public hospital death rates were brought down to those of the better-performing district health boards.

A Herald investigation has found that the Waikato District Health Board has had among the highest in-hospital “standardised” mortality rates in recent years.

In a five-year period, it had the highest rate for three years…

..Figures comparing hospital death rates are routinely available to the public in Britain and Canada, and Australia has endorsed using this kind of information as an indicator of healthcare quality and safety.

In New Zealand, the details have not been readily available, and the five-year figures for the Herald investigation were obtained from the ministry under the Official Information Act.” source

You may think that New Zealand’s health care has many similarities to that found in a third world country. We wouldn’t disagree with that.

New Zealand has a lot in common with Moldova source Daily Mail UK

You may also be interested in

The E2NZ Health Wiki

8 thoughts on “Is New Zealand Third World? “Cost-cutting surgeons are using hardware tools in our hospitals” Just Like Moldova

  1. Well N.Z National party has just announced a surplus of 2 billion dollars ,if that isn’t financial mismanagement than what is ,2 billion and drs are shopping at mitre 10 for their equipment

  2. The public health system has been a thorn in our side for years now. There was however a time (back in the 70s and 80s) when you could actually get reasonable public healthcare in New Zealand. I have recollections of good treatment and good rehabilitation – and of contented medical staff (a very important factor).

    Ultimately the fault lies with the system (or lack of it) and the imbeciles who supposedly manage that system (the decision makers and the cost cutters). As is the kiwi norm however – you just let those issues slip over your head and concern yourself more with all the problems ‘they’ are having overseas. “She’ll be right bro!” Besides the Bledisloe Cup begins this weekend and all true kiwis should be more interested in that…

  3. I know nothing about health care provided in different countries around the world but have formed a view about practices in NZ hospitals which may or may not be normal in other countries. In New Zealand we have a situation where there are many examples of doctors/consultants who are employed by Health Boards who also run more lucrative private practices. This seems to be a fundamental conflict of interest because waiting lists are in the best interests of doctors/consultants if it creates demand in the private sector in which they also work. Waiting lists are in part a result of scarcity of doctors/consultants time which is exacerbated if they work in the DHB only 2 days a week etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if the scarcity of consultants time sees them demanding exorbitant rates also for their DHB work. Not intended as a dig at Doctors but I feel there something amiss with the way the system operates.

  4. This is what they call “kiwi ingenuity”. And so dammed proud of it they are too. That’s why they get away with it. No one minds if it saves them a miserly penny. This country is sick.

  5. Someone once said – NZ was best “3rd world country” but I guess it’s losing even that position now. 😉

  6. It’s more about cost cutting and executive pay I would assume unfortunately like most things in N.Z the hospital system is very broken .what puzzles me is that the intelligent and skilled staff within these organisations are not whistle blowing on a large scale ,who are they scared of ? What could really happen to them if they went to the media and reported the fact that lives were at risk due to inferior equipment being used in operating rooms,I’d rather see this reported on the News than 1/2 an hour of listening to the All blacks coach Steve Hansen speak unintelligibly through his nose or some other equally useless stuff.Strangely N.Z reports that other countries hold up our health care system as a model system for the world more delusional rambling however it’s likely superior to some other 3 rd world countries.I was recently told my wait time was 4 hours to see a Dr at the local hospital ER treatment would take longer ,I had a 10 cm long by 10 mm deep chainsaw cut on my thigh( I went to a private facility and paid cash)many people were using the ER as a Drs surgery as they can not afford a Drs visit,Rockstar economy?

  7. That is so scary… I was in Dunedin hospital to have my baby via c-section, the wooden wheelchairs I saw there shocked me already but this is beyond words…

  8. The old Kiwi “number 8 fenciing wire” solutiona are definitely NOT appropriate when it comes to surgery in NZ’s hospitals. How is this allowed to happen? Somebody needs to be held accountable.

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