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High occupancy levels are a ‘direct danger to patients’ — research

Prof Ludwig Kuntz from the University of Cologne presented his findings to the delegates at the first scientific session of the AGM.

A number of IMO delegates made the connection between the number of patient deaths and the levels of occupancy in the Irish health system.

His research highlighted what Prof Kuntz termed a “safety tipping point”.

This is the point in hospital occupancy levels beyond which clinical staff became more prone to error due to rationing of resources and elevated stress levels.

He said that the safety tipping-point figure was 92.5 per cent of occupancy. He added that one-in-seven deaths in hospital could have been avoided if that level of occupancy had not been reached,

“92.5 per cent as a threshold for mortality is really, really interesting to us here” Dr Christine O’Malley said after Prof Kuntz’s presentation.

“And then you look at here in Ireland, we are averaging around 92 per cent. This highlights for us in this stressed system that we are working in a system that is dangerous.”

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