Supporting safer treatment

We aim to reduce injuries in New Zealand that are related to treatment from registered health providers. To do this, we’re working with the health sector and leading and supporting prevention programmes.

On this page

    New Zealand treatment injury information

    We published a report in 2021 on claims for treatment injuries in New Zealand. It helps us understand why these injuries happen, so we can support work to prevent them.

    Supporting treatment safety report

    Lodging treatment injury claims

    Around 37% of treatment injury claims are declined for various reasons. To help with claim lodgement we have a guide that covers everything you need to know about lodging a claim, and the resources available to help you do it.

    Treatment injury claim lodgement guide

    We have a flowchart that can help you decide whether or not to lodge a treatment injury claim.

    Treatment injury claim lodgement flowchart

    If you'd like to order hard copies of the guide or the flowchart in poster format, email us.


    You can also download a treatment injury claim form (ACC2152).

    Treatment injury claim form

    Preventing treatment injuries

    We've committed a $45 million investment to treatment safety programmes between 2017 and 2022.

    We’re working with the health sector to prevent a wide variety of treatment injuries. These include:

    • healthcare associated infections
    • medication safety
    • pressure injuries
    • neonatal encephalopathy
    • surgical harm.

    These all have preventable aspects, and result in high claim volumes and cost to us.

    Our prevention programmes

    Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) prevention

    NE is a major cause of brain injury in new-born babies. Injury numbers are small, but these injuries can have a major and long-lasting impact on children and their families.

    From 2015-2023 we supported the NE Taskforce that brought together expert representatives including:

    • health care providers
    • clinicians
    • professional bodies
    • government agencies
    • patient advocacy groups.

    We’re working with the taskforce to implement a significant programme of work focused on four priority areas:

    • Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP)
      More about GAP 
    • newborn observation chart and newborn early warning system
    • cord lactate testing
    • fetal care during pregnancy and birth.

    So far, we have implemented the Growth Assessment Protocol, newborn observation chart/newborn early warning system and the Small for Gestational Age guideline across Aotearoa New Zealand.

    A document outlining cord lactate testing at birth is complete and waiting to be published. We plan to continue the fetal care programme by working with key organisations across health.

    We also developed Small for Gestational Age Guidelines to help midwives and doctors care for at-risk pregnancies.

    More about the Small for Gestational Age Guidelines

    Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) prevention

    HAIs are one of the most frequent forms of patient harm and the most common treatment injury claim. We’re targeting a reduction in the incidence and severity of HAIs via a national programme of best practice approaches.

    We’re working alongside the health sector in public and private hospitals and in general practice settings on these prevention initiatives as well as supporting the rollout of ICNet, an infection detection and surveillance platform.

    Guiding principles for healthcare associated infections

    In partnership with sector experts and Synergia, we have developed the HAI Guiding Principles. This document is a resource for all healthcare providers to support decision making and inform ways to improve their systems, aiming to reduce the incidence and severity of HAIs.

    They are designed to make it easy for healthcare providers to do the right thing and to improve the quality and safety of their services.

    This document, developed from evidence-based best practice, will also help health care providers to meet the new infection prevention and control requirements of Ngā Paerewa (Health and Disability Services Standards).

    Guiding principles for healthcare associated infections

    New Zealand Aseptic Technique

    We have developed the New Zealand Aseptic Technique (NZAT). This simple and consistent approach to aseptic technique is designed for all health professionals who undertake procedures that may introduce infection, in any clinical setting.

    It was developed in partnership with experts across the health sector and Te Whatu Ora Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast and Counties Manukau.

    A consistent approach to aseptic technique is seen as a globally recognised way to reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections.

    NZAT is free to access and has been developed here in Aotearoa New Zealand to complement other education packages such as the Aseptic Non Touch Technique.   

    A suite of free resources is available at LearnOnline to support you and your organisation to use the NZAT.  It takes less than two minutes to create a log in. Get access to these resources:   

    • In-person education package to deliver training to staff.
    • Audit package to determine current practice and knowledge of aseptic technique principles and identify learning opportunities.
    • Online e-learning module for healthcare workers, which can contribute towards professional development.
    • Aseptic technique policy template, which supports organisations to comply with the Ngā Parewa Health and Disability Sector Standard.

    Access LearnOnline resources

    Pressure injury prevention

    Thousands of people suffer a pressure injury each year even though they’re mostly preventable. This impacts the health system and reduces quality of life for those affected.

    We have a major programme of work underway, focused on reducing the incidence and severity of pressure injuries, and improving management and treatment. We’re working with the health and disability sector to do this by:

    • implementing the Guiding Principles for Pressure Injury Prevention and Management in DHBs around the country
    • implementing the pressure injury in spinal cord injury (SCI) consensus statement. Through this process, we aim to make a positive impact on the prevention and management of pressure injuries in individuals with SCI, with a particular focus on reaching ethnicities at higher risk of developing pressure injuries 
    • reviewing pressure injury education for the regulated and unregulated health workforce
    • investigating opportunities within ACC to improve pressure injury prevention.

    NZ Wound Care Society pressure injury prevention resources

    Guiding principles for pressure injury prevention and management

    Pressure injury in spinal cord injury consensus statement

    This consensus statement has also been translated into multiple languages. Enter 'consensus statement' into the search bar or download from our Resources section.

    Download the consensus statement in other languages

    Fetal anticonvulsant syndrome (FACS)

    We're working with experts from across the sector to inform people who could become pregnant, their families and their health providers about the effects of taking anti-seizure or mood stabilising medicines during pregnancy. This includes:

    • what they're used for – epilepsy, mental health conditions, and pain management
    • the risk of harm – physical malformations and cognitive impairments
    • what to do if they're pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

    See life through the eyes of three people living with FACs.

    Watch: Living with Foetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome

    Download or order resources

    You can download these resources or order free copies via our ordering system

    For health providers:

    Benefits and risks of taking anti-seizure medicines for epilepsy, mental health, or pain booklet

    For people who could get pregnant, their family and whānau:

    Medicines for epilepsy, mental health, and pain can harm your unborn baby booklet

    Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome New Zealand (FACSNZ)

    Learning from serious adverse events

    Our insights show that sometimes when things go wrong in a hospital environment, suitable adverse event reviews are not completed, recommendations are not implemented, and lessons learned are not shared. 

    We worked with the sector on an approach that will improve the capacity and capability of the health sector to conduct and act upon adverse event reviews. This includes clinical human factors expertise.

    Matt Gunter’s story

    In 2012, 15-year-old Matthew Gunter underwent surgery for a simple appendectomy. Unfortunately, his post-operative experience was not as expected, and Matt passed away. His death was preventable.

    We’ve partnered with Matt’s mum, district nurse Heather Gunter, to bring Matt’s story to hospitals throughout New Zealand.

    Watch: Matt Gunter's story

    Surgical Safety and perioperative harm

    There has been a very significant rise in the number and cost of surgery-related (perioperative) treatment injury claims over the last 10 years. These injuries cause significant harm to people affected.

    To help address this we’ve partnered with The University of Auckland School of Medicine to deliver the NetworkZ programme - a surgical simulation-based team training programme - to surgical teams around the country.

    State-of-the-art surgical simulation suites are being installed in all Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand districts to support multidisciplinary teams to train together in a realistic environment.

    Learn more about NetworkZ

    Goodfellow Unit series: Surgical-mesh complications

    We have undertaken several actions to improve the experience and health outcomes for people treated with surgical mesh. One of these is to provide education for primary care providers. We’ve partnered with Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health to fund an education programme that aims to reduce the harm caused by surgical mesh. 

    This series of webinars, organised by the Goodfellow Unit, aims to prevent, recognise, and manage surgical mesh harm.

    View the Goodfellow Unit webinar series

    Contact us

    Get in touch if you have questions or would like more information about our programmes.


    Last published: 14 March 2024