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Found 14 results
  1. Content Article
    “After he died, the little plastic ID band that was around his tiny wrist should have been slipped onto mine. There was nothing more that could have been done for him, but there was plenty that needed to be done for me. I needed an infusion of truth and compassion. And the nurses and doctors who took care of him, they needed it too." Leilani Schweitzer[1] When someone is hurt, it is reasonable to expect the healthcare system to provide care to alleviate symptoms or to cure. It is also reasonable to expect those providing the care to be adequately trained and supported to do so. Yet, when harm is caused by healthcare, the spectrum of harm suffered is not well understood, care needs are not fully recognised and, therefore, the care needed to facilitate optimum recovery is not being provided.[2] In fact, with outrageous frequency, at a time when exceptional care is so desperately needed, those hurting describe how they are further harmed from ‘uncaring’ careless and injurious responses. Healthcare harm is a ‘double whammy’ for patients Healthcare harm is a ‘double whammy’. There’s the primary harm itself – to the patient and/or to those left bereaved – but there is also the separate emotional harm caused specifically by being let down by the healthcare professionals/system in which trust had to be placed.[3] This additional emotional harm has been described as being the damage caused to the trust, confidence and hope of the patient and/or their family.[4] Trust – you rely on professionals to take responsibility for what you cannot do yourself. Confidence - you believe that the system will protect you from harm. Hope – you have the conviction that things will turn out well. Anderson-Wallace and Shale[4] For the patient and family to be able to heal from healthcare harm, appropriate care must be provided not only for the primary injury and any fall out from this, but also this additional emotional injury (being let down by healthcare) and any fall out from that. For example, a parent who loses a child as a result of failures in care will need help to cope with the loss of their child and all of the processes that occur as a result. But they will also need support to cope with having had to hand over responsibility for their child’s safety to healthcare professionals, only to be let down, and all the feelings and processes associated with that. Much needs to happen to restore that parent’s trust, confidence and hope in our healthcare system and the staff within it. This is different to the parent of a child who has passed away from an incurable illness despite exemplary healthcare. A parent let down by healthcare has specific additional care and support needs that need to be met to help them cope and work towards recovery. Healthcare harm also causes emotional harm to the staff involved In 2000, Albert Wu introduced the phrase ‘second victim’ in an attempt to highlight the emotional effects for staff involved in a medical error and the need for emotional support to help their recovery.[5] The term has recently been criticised, since families should be considered the second victim,[6] and the word victim is believed “incompatible with the safety of patients and the accountability that patients and families expect from healthcare providers.”[7] While the term itself may be antagonistic, or misrepresentative, the sentiment – that staff involved in incidents need support to cope with what has happened, and to give them the confidence to do what is needed to help the patient/family heal – certainly stands. When staff are involved in an incident of patient harm, they may lose trust in their own ability and the systems they work in to keep patients safe, and they may worry about their future.[5],[8] They need care and support in order to recover themselves and, crucially, so that they feel psychologically safe and are fully supported to be open and honest about what has happened. They need to feel able to do this without fearing personal detrimental consequences for being honest, such as unfair blame or a risk to their career. This is essential to the injured patient/family receiving the full and truthful explanations and apologies they need in order to regain trust, confidence and hope, and, ultimately, to heal as best they can. So, in addition to patients and families there should be a ‘care pathway’ for staff involved in incidents of harm. A google search on ‘second victim’ reveals a wealth of research on the emotional effects of medical error for staff involved and the best ways to provide support for this, and this is resulting in the emergence of staff support provision to aid recovery.[9] In contrast, very little research has been done into the emotional effects and support needs of families and patients. How is ‘care’ for emotional harm given? The ‘treatment’ of the emotional harm has been described as ‘making amends’ – by restoring trust, confidence and hope.[4] Once a patient has been harmed by healthcare, every interaction (physical, verbal or written) they have with healthcare after that will either serve to help them heal or to compound the emotional harm already suffered. Trew et al.[10] describe harm from healthcare as a “significant loss” and conclude that “coping after harm in healthcare is a form of grieving and coping with loss”. In their model, harmed patients and families proceed through a ‘trajectory of grief’ before reaching a state of normalisation. Some can move further into a deeper stage of grief and seemingly become stuck in what is referred to as complicated grief. They can display signs of psychiatric conditions "if there are substantial unresolved issues, or where there is unsupportive action on the part of individuals associated with the healthcare system and the harm experience”. At the point of the harmful event, the patient/family experiences losses, including a drop in psychological wellbeing. From this point on, healthcare staff and organisations have opportunities to respond. If the response is supportive it may be helpful for the patient/family in coping with the losses. If the response is not supportive, this may cause ‘second harm’ complicating the healing process, leaving the patient/family with unresolved questions, emotions, anger and trust issues. The patient’s psychological wellbeing and ability to return to normal functioning are severely affected. “Most healthcare organizations have proved, in the past at least, extraordinarily bad at dealing with injured patients, resorting at times, particularly during litigation, to deeply unpleasant tactics of delay and manipulation which seriously compounded the initial problems. My phrase ‘second trauma’ is not just a linguistic device, but an accurate description of what some patients experience.” Charles Vincent[11] There is no shortage of individuals who have suffered extensive ‘second harm’ sharing their experiences in the hope this will lead to better experiences for others and some help for themselves to recover. Many are, wrongly, being ‘written off’ as historical cases that can no longer be looked at. This cannot be right – when these people are suffering and need appropriate responses to heal their wounds. The extent of suffering that exists now, in people who have been affected by both primary trauma and then second harm from uncaring defensive responses, or responses that have not taken into account the information patients and families themselves have, or relevant questions they ask, is no doubt nothing short of scandalous. There is a pressing urgency for the NHS to stop causing secondary trauma to affected patients and families. ‘Patient safety’ has to start applying to the harmed patient and their family members’ safety after an adverse event, and not just focus on preventing a repeat of the event in the future. Yes, future occurrences must be prevented, learning is crucial, but so is holistically ‘looking after’ all those affected by this incident. If they are not looked after, their safety is at risk as their ability to heal is severely compromised; in fact they are in danger of further psychological trauma. These same principles apply to affected staff. Avoiding second harm: what happens now and what is needed? This series of blogs will highlight that every interaction a harmed patient or family member has with staff in healthcare organisations (not just clinical staff) after a safety incident should be considered as ‘delivery of care’. With this view, the ‘care interaction’ should be carried out by someone trained and skilled and supported to do so, with the genuine intention of meeting the patient/families’ needs and aiding the patient/family to recover and heal (restore trust, hope and confidence). The interaction / response must not cause further harm. Stress or suffering, and the content of the interaction, for example a letter, should not have been compromised, as often occurs, by competing priorities of the organisation to the detriment of the patient/family. Thus, these blogs will look at: The processes that occur after an incident of harm (Duty of Candour, incident investigation, complaint, inquest) with the aforementioned focus. The care the patient and family need and the obligation (that ought to exist) to meet that need. Processes that are core to the package of ‘care’ to be provided to the harmed or bereaved and to be delivered by skilled and supported ‘care providers’. The blog series will seek to show that meaningful patient engagement in all of these processes is crucial for restoring trust, confidence and hope; therefore, aiding healing of all groups in the aftermath of harm. “It is important to respect and support the active involvement of patients and their families in seeking explanations and deciding how best they can be helped. Indeed at a time which is often characterised by a breakdown of trust between clinician and patient, the principle of actively involving patients and families becomes even more important.” Vincent and Coulter, 2002[3] It will also consider the additional care and support needs that might need to be met alongside these processes in a holistic package of care, such as peer support, specialist medical harm psychological support and good quality specialist advice and advocacy. It will describe what is currently available and what more is needed if healthcare is to provide adequate care for those affected by medical error in order to give them the best chance of recovery. Alongside this, the needs of the staff involved will also be considered. We welcome opinion and comments from patients, relatives, staff, researchers and patient safety experts on what should be considered when designing three harmed patient care pathways: for patients, families and staff. What is the right approach? What actions should be taken? How can these actions be implemented? What more needs to be done? Join in the discussion and give us your feedback so we can inform the work to design a harmed patient care pathway that, when implemented, will reduce the extra suffering currently (and avoidably) experienced by so many. Comment on this blog below, email us your feedback or start a conversation in the Community. References 1. Leilani Schweitzer. Transparency, compassion, and truth in medical errors. TEDxUniversityofNevada. 12 Feb 2013. 2. Bell SK, Etchegaray JM, Gaufberg E, et al. A multi-stakeholder consensus-driven research agenda for better understanding and supporting the emotional impact of harmful events on patients and families. J Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2018;44(7):424-435. 3. Vincent CA, Coulter A. Patient safety: what about the patient? BMJ Qual Saf 2002;11(1):76-80. 4. Anderson-Wallace M, Shale S. Restoring trust: What is ‘quality’ in the aftermath of healthcare harm? Clin Risk 2014;20(1-2):16-18. 5. Wu AW. Medical error: the second victim: The doctor who makes the mistake needs help too. BMJ 2000;320(7237):726-727. 6. Shorrock S. The real second victims. Humanistic Systems website. 7. Clarkson M, Haskell H, Hemmelgarn C, Skolnik PJ. Editorial: Abandon the term “second victim”. BMJ 2019; 364:l1233. 8. Scott SD, Hirschinger LE, Cox KR, McCoig M, Brandt J, Hall LW. The natural history of recovery for the healthcare provider “second victim” after adverse patient events. Qual Saf Health Care 2009;18(5):325-330. 9. Second victim support for managers website. Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group and the Improvement Academy. 10. Trew M, Nettleton S, Flemons W. Harm to Healing – Partnering with Patients Who Have Been Harmed. Canadian Patient Safety Institute 2012. 11. Vincent C. Patient Safety. Second Edition. BMJ Books 2010.
  2. News Article
    Early warning scores are used in the NHS to identify patients in acute care whose health is deteriorating, but medics say it could actually be putting people in danger. The rollout of an early warning system used in hospitals to identify patients at the greatest risk of dying is based on flawed evidence, according to a study published in the BMJ which suggests that much of the research supporting the rollout of NEWS was biased and overly reliant on scores that could put patients at greater risk.. Medical researchers said problems with NHS England's National Early Warning Scores (NEWS) system had emerged "frequently" in reports on avoidable deaths. The system sees each patient given an overall score based on a number of vital signs such as heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure and level of consciousness. Doctors and nurses can then prioritise patients with the most urgent NEWS scores. But some professionals have argued that the system has reduced nursing duties to a checklist of tasks rather than a process of providing overall clinical assessment. Professor Alison Leary, a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and chair of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, told The Independent: “In our analysis of prevention of future death reports from coroners, early warning scores and misunderstanding around their use feature frequently". “It's clear that some organisations use scoring systems and a more tick box approach to care as they lack the right amount of appropriately skilled staff, mostly registered nurses.” “Early warning scores might not perform as well as expected and therefore they could have a detrimental effect on patient care,” the authors of the research conclude. “Future work should focus on following recommended approaches for developing and evaluating early warning scores, and investigating the impact and safety of using these scores in clinical practice.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 May 2020
  3. Content Article
    To access this video you will need to sign in to BBC iPlayer and be in the possession of a TV licence.
  4. Content Article
    This report is not simply a story about a rogue surgeon. It would be tragic enough if that was the case, given the thousands of people whom Ian Paterson treated. But it is far worse. It is the story of a healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe, and where those who were the victims of Paterson’s malpractice were let down time and time again. This video report was streamed live on ITV News on 4th February 2020.
  5. Content Article
    Recommendations from the report There should be a single repository of the whole practice of consultants across England, setting out their practising privileges and other critical consultant performance data, for example, how many times a consultant has performed a particular procedure and how recently. This should be accessible and understandable to the public. It should be mandated for use by managers and healthcare professionals in both the NHS and independent sector It should be standard practice that consultants in both the NHS and the independent sector should write to patients, outlining their condition and treatment, in simple language, and copy this letter to the patient’s GP, rather than writing to the GP and sending a copy to the patient. Differences between how the care of patients in the independent sector is organised and the care of patients in the NHS is organised, should be explained clearly to patients who choose to be treated privately, or whose treatment is provided in the independent sector but funded by the NHS. This should include 219 Recommendations clarification of how consultants are engaged at the private hospital, including the use of practising privileges and indemnity, and the arrangements for emergency provision and intensive care. There should be a short period introduced into the process of patients giving consent for surgical procedures, to allow them time to reflect on their diagnosis and treatment options. We recommend that the GMC monitors this as part of ‘Good Medical Practice’ The CQC, as a matter of urgency, should assure itself that all hospital providers are complying effectively with up-to-date national guidance on MDT meetings, including in breast cancer care, and that patients are not at risk of harm due to non-compliance in this area. Information about the means to escalate a complaint to an independent body is communicated more effectively in both the NHS and independent sector. All private patients should have the right to mandatory independent resolution of their complaint. The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust board should check that all patients of Paterson have been recalled, and to communicate with any who have not been seen. We recommend that Spire should check that all patients of Paterson have been recalled, and to communicate with any who have not been seen, and that they should check that they have been given an ongoing treatment plan in the same way that has been provided for patients in the NHS. A national framework or protocol, with guidance, is developed about how recall of patients should be managed and communicated. This framework or protocol should specify that the process is centred around the patient’s needs, provide advice on how recall decisions are made, and advise what resource is required and how this might be provided. This should apply to both the independent sector and the NHS. The Government should, as a matter of urgency, reform the current regulation of indemnity products for healthcare professionals, in light of the serious shortcomings identified by the Inquiry, and introduce a nationwide safety net to ensure patients are not disadvantaged. The Government should ensure that the current system of regulation and the collaboration of the regulators serves patient safety as the top priority, given the ineffectiveness of the system identified in this Inquiry. If, when a hospital investigates a healthcare professional’s behaviour, including the use of an HR process, any perceived risk to patient safety should result in the suspension of that healthcare professional. If the healthcare professional also works at another provider, any concerns about them should be communicated to that provider. The Government addresses, as a matter of urgency, this gap in responsibility and liability.
  6. News Article
    In a report published today, AvMA, the charity Action Against Medical Accidents, reveals serious delays in NHS trusts implementing patient safety alerts, which are one of the main ways in which the NHS seeks to prevent known patient safety risks harming or killing patients. The report, authored by Dr David Cousins, former head of safe medication practice at the National Patient Safety Agency, NHS England and NHS Improvement, identifies serious problems with the system of issuing patient safety alerts and monitoring compliance with them. Compliance with alerts issued under the now abolished National Patient Safety Agency and NHS England are no longer monitored – even though patient safety incidents continue to be reported to the NHS National Reporting and Learning System. David said: “The NHS is losing it memory concerning preventable harms to patients. Important known risks to patient safety are being ignored by the NHS. The National Reporting and Learning System, the NHS Strategy and new format patient safety alerts, all managed by NHS Improvement, now ignore the majority of ‘known/wicked harms’ which have been the subject of patient safety alerts in the past and have now been archived." “Implementation of guidance in new Patient Safety Alerts can be delayed, for years in some cases. The Care Quality Commission that inspects NHS provider organisations also no longer appear to check that safeguards to major risks, recommended in patient safety alerts, have been implemented, or continue to be implemented, as part of their NHS inspections. Read full story Source: AvMA, 28 January 2020
  7. Content Article
    Social normalisation of deviance means that people within the organisation become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact they exceed their own rules for the elementary safety. People grow more accustomed to the deviant behaviour the more it occurs . To people outside of the organisation, the activities seem deviant; however, people within the organisation do not recognise the deviance because it is seen as a normal occurrence. In hindsight, people within the organisation realise that their seemingly normal behaviour was deviant. Diane Vaughan uses healthcare to illustrate why deviance is normalised in companies. She gives four major reasons why it happens: "The rules are stupid and inefficient." System operators will often invent shortcuts or workarounds when the rule, regulation, or standard seems irrational or inefficient. Knowledge is imperfect and uneven. System operators might not know that a particular rule or standard exists; or, they might have been taught a system deviation without realising it. "I’m breaking the rule for the good of my patient!" This justification for rule deviation is where the rule or standard is perceived as counterproductive. Workers are afraid to speak up. The likelihood that rule violations will become normalised increases if those who witness them refuse to intervene. Yet, studies show that people feel it is difficult or impossible to speak up. Solutions Vaughan offers the following suggestions for helping to prevent deviant behaviours from becoming normalised: Education is the best solution for the normalisation of deviance. Diane Vaughn states, "the ignorance of what is going on is organisational and prevents any attempt to stop the unfolding harm." Being clear about standards and rewarding whistleblowers is part of the education that should take place. A company must be transparent about their standards and consequences of not meeting them. Also, creating a culture that is less individualistic and more team-based is helpful to stop the normalisation of deviance. Each person should be looking out for the company and team as a whole. If it were more team-based, each person would feel like they were letting their colleagues down if they were to break the rules. A top-down approach is very important. If the employees see executives breaking rules, they will feel it is normal in the company's culture. Normalisation of deviance is easier to prevent than to correct. Companies must make sure they take the correct steps to prevent it.
  8. News Article
    Dozens of hospital trusts have failed to act on alerts warning that patients could be harmed on its wards, The Independent newspaper has revealed. Almost 50 NHS hospitals have missed key deadlines to make changes to keep patients safe – and now could face legal action. One hospital, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust, has an alert that is more than five years past its deadline date and has still not been resolved. Now the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned it will be inspecting hospitals for their compliance with safety alerts and could take action against hospitals ignoring the deadlines. National bodies issue safety alerts to hospitals after patient deaths and serious incidents where a solution has been identified and action needs to be taken. Despite the system operating for almost 20 years, the NHS continues to see patient deaths and injuries from known and avoidable mistakes. NHS national director for safety Aidan Fowler has reorganised the system to send out fewer and simpler alerts with clear actions hospitals need to take, overseen by a new national committee. Last year the CQC made a recommendation to streamline and standardise safety alerts after it investigated why lessons were not being learnt. Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of hospitals, said: “CQC fully supports the recent introduction of the new national patient safety alerts and we have committed to looking closely at how NHS trusts are implementing these safety alerts as part of our monitoring and inspection activity.” He stressed: “Failure to take the actions required under these alerts could lead to CQC taking regulatory action.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 30 December 2019
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