There was a 6% increase in serious incidents within the HSE last year, with most resulting in a patient’s death or serious harm.
The details have been released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Some ‘serious reportable events’ are largely preventable patient-safety incidents.
Others might not have been preventable, such as a patient falling, but need to be examined to see if safety could be improved.
There were 636 serious reportable events within the HSE in 2018, rising to 675 last year.
In 2019, 286 were ‘care-management events’, which include a patient’s death due to a medication or diagnostic error, or a maternal death that was the hospital’s fault.
336 were ‘environmental events’. These all involved a patient falling and dying or getting seriously injured as a result.
23 were ‘criminal events’, which include sexual assaults or serious physical attacks.
Dr Mary Tumelty, a lecturer UCC's school of law, said: "The numbers highlight that systems need to be made better. Where serious reportable offences occur often the human cost on the patients and their families is incalculable.
"It's essential that safety incidents are reported and investigated and lessons are learned."
The HSE says the health service has millions of interactions with patients and service-users every year, and there is often excellent care, but it says adverse events and patient harm can and do occur.