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Found 39 results
  1. Content Article
    Content includes: Patient Safety: We’ve Come a Long Way National Patient Safety Consortium: Learning from Large-Scale CollaborationPatient Engagement in a Large-Scale Change Initiative: “As Safe as Possible, as Soon as Possible” Commentary: Three Ideas About “Post-Vention” Patient Safety Never Events: Cross-Canada Checkup Empowering Patients: 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications Accelerating Post-Surgical Best Practices Using Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Patient Safety Culture Bundle for CEOs and Senior Leaders Commentary: We Must Look at Multiple Perspectives Homecare Safety Virtual Quality Improvement Collaboratives Commentary: Patient Safety in the Home Measuring and Monitoring Healthcare-Associated Infections: A Canadian Collaboration to Better Understand the Magnitude of the Problem Patient Safety: Patient Involvement Matters.
  2. Content Article
    As in previous years, it is certain that under-reporting is significant. Reporting rates in some of the higher usage Trusts/Health Boards vary twentyfold. Given the cultural, resource and procedural similarities of these organisations, it is highly unlikely that the error and mishap rate varies by anything like this much, so reporting rates are likely to play a large part. One area where this is likely to have greatest impact is in the reporting of near misses, the most fertile learning area. The leading causes of transfusion-related incidents are, again this year, ‘human factors’ related, with procedural failures and flawed decision-making contributing in large measure. While decision support tools and information technology have gained some traction, and continue to help us progress in these areas, their universal adoption remains some way off. Until these are more widespread, we continue to rely on education and peer pressure to encourage best practice. A ‘human factors’ approach is key to understanding why errors and accidents continue to occur, despite, in many cases, adequate training, knowledge, expertise and currency. Those areas of hospitals which are under greatest stress and pressure, for example, emergency departments, continue to report a year on year increase in errors. Despite this, transfusion remains very safe indeed,with the risk of serious harm being 1 in 17,884 and death 1 in 135,705 transfused components in the UK.
  3. Content Article
    During my many years of working in operating theatres, I observed that hydrogen peroxide was adopted by surgeons as a ritual for washing out wounds and deep cavities. An entire bottle of 200 ml hydrogen peroxide was mixed with 200 ml of normal saline. It seems this ritual was passed down from consultant to trainee and it then became a habit. In a recent post on the hub, I mentioned that women in 1920 were given Lysol as a disinfectant to preserve their feminity and maritial bliss! Lysol contains hydrogen peroxide, so women were daily irrigating their vaginas with a harmful solution of fizz, unaware of the hazards. I believe it is still being used to colour hair, remove blood stains, as a mouthwash gargle and also to whiten teeth. Then suddenly a breakthrough! In 2014, in my email inbox, a yellow sticker warning appeared from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regarding the use of hydrogen peroxide in deep cavities. So why did the MHRA ban the use of hydrogen peroxide in deep cavities? Hydrogen peroxide is contraindicated for use in closed body cavities or on deep or large wounds due to the risk of gas embolism. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down rapidly to water and oxygen on contact with tissues. If this reaction occurs in an enclosed space, the large amount of oxygen produced can cause gas embolism.[1] There has been several case reports that have been published from around the world of life threatening or fatal gas embolism with use of hydrogen peroxide in surgery, of which five were from the UK. Most of the global reports describe cardiorespiratory collapse occurring within seconds to minutes of instillation of hydrogen peroxide as wound irrigation or when used to soak swabs for wound packing. This was sometimes accompanied by features associated with excess gas generation such as surgical emphysema, pneumocephalus, aspiration of gas from central venous lines, or the presence of gas bubbles on transoesophageal echocardiography. Non-fatal events were sometimes associated with permanent neurological damage such as neuro-vegetative state and hypoxic encephalopathy.[1] As the Practice Development Lead for the theatre department where I worked it was my role to pass on and act on the information received from the MHRA, so I discussed it with my very supportive theatre manager and then escalated to the theatre staff. But some consultants still ask for it today; it is always refused. So why do consultants request it when they are aware of the hazards? One theatre never event describes a syringe of hydrogen peroxide given to a consultant and injected into a joint instead of the required local anaesthetic![2] The patient survived but required care in the intensive care unit. As a scrub nurse practitioner this scares me. What about you? Would you now research this yellow sticker alert further, implement best practice and speak up, or would you just keep quiet and go "with the flow?" We all make mistakes, but learning from our errors will always be the ultimate key to improvement in healthcare and best practice and safety for our patients. References 1. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Hydrogen peroxide: reminder of risk of gas embolism when used in surgery. 19 December 2014. 2. Chung J and Jeong M. Oxygen embolism caused by accidental subcutaneous injection of hydrogen peroxide during orthopedic surgery. A case report. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017; 96(43): e8342.
  4. Community Post
    Hi The new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework is due for publication this month for early adopters and as 'introductory guidance' for everyone else: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/about-new-patient-safety-incident-response-framework/ I wondered if there is anyone who is involved in an organisation that is an early adopter who can share what has happened so far and also would be willing to share any local learning as the new framework is implemented? Also, more generally wondered if anyone has any initial comments on the proposals which were mentioned in the NHS patient safety strategy and any things in particular which they think will bring benefit or could represent significant challenges or issues?
  5. Content Article
    So, what does it feel like working in chronically depleted staffing levels? "We are down three nurses today" – this is what I usually hear when I turn up for a shift. It has become the norm. We work below our template, usually daily, so much so that when we are fully staffed, we are expected to work on other wards that are ‘three nurses down’. Not an uncommon occurrence to hear at handover on a busy 50-bedded medical ward. No one seems to bat an eyelid; you may see people sink into their seat, roll their eyes or sigh, but this is work as usual. ‘Three nurses down’ has been the norm for months here, staff here have adapted to taking up the slack. Instead of taking a bay of six patients, the side rooms are added on making the ratio 1:9 or sometimes 1:10, especially at night. This splitting up the workload has become common practice on many wards. "That was a good shift" – no one died when they were not supposed to, I gave the medications, I documented care that we gave, I filled out all the paperwork that I am supposed to, I completed the safety checklists. Sounds a good shift? Thinking of Erik Hollnagel’s ‘work as done, work as imagined’ (Wears, Hollnagel & Braithwaite, 2015) – this shift on paper looks as if it was a ‘good shift’ but in fact: Medications were given late; some were not given at all as the pharmacy order went out late because we had a patient that fell. Care that was given was documented – most of the personal care is undertaken by the healthcare assistants (HCA) now and verbally handed over during the day – bowel movements, mobility, hygiene, mouth care, nutrition and hydration. As a nurse, I should be involved in these important aspects of my patients’ care, but I am on the phone sorting out Bed 3’s discharge home, calling the bank office to cover sickness, attending to a complaint by a relative. It’s being attended to by the HCA – so it's sorted? I have documented, probably over documented which has made me late home. I’m fearful of being reprimanded for the fall my patient had earlier on. This will be investigated and they will find out using my documentation what happened. The safety checklists have been completed for all my patients; comfort rounds, mouth care, falls proforma, bed rails assessment, nutritional score, cannular care plan, catheter care plan, delirium score, swallow test, capacity test, pre op assessments, pre op checklists, safe ward round checklist, NEWS charting, fluid balance charting and stool charting… the list is endless. Management have made things easier with the checklist ‘if it’s not written down it didn’t happen’ so now we can ‘tick’ against the check list rather than writing copious notes. However, I cut corners to enable me to complete all my tasks, some ticks are just ‘ticks’ when no work has been completed. No one would know this shift would they? What looks as if it has been a ‘good shift’ for the nurse, has often been the opposite for the patients and their family. There is a large body of research showing that low nurse staffing levels are associated with a range of adverse outcomes, notably mortality (Griffiths et al, 2018; Recio-Saucedo et al, 2018). What is the safest level of staff to care for patients? Safe staffing levels have been a long-standing mission of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)/Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in recent years. In the UK at present, nurse staffing levels are set locally by individual health providers. The Department of Health and professional organisations such as the RCN have recommended staffing levels for some care settings but there is currently no compliance regime or compulsion for providers to follow these when planning services (Royal College of Nursing 2019). I was surprised to find that there are no current guidelines on safe staffing within our healthcare system. It left me wondering… is patient safety a priority within our healthcare system? It seems not. While the debate and fight continues for safe staffing levels, healthcare staff continue to nurse patients without knowing what is and isn’t safe. Not only are the patients at risk and the quality of care given, but the registration of that nurse is also at risk. What impact does low staffing have on patients and families? ‘What matters to them’ does not get addressed. I shall never forget the time a relative asked me to get a fresh sheet for their elderly mother as there was a small spillage of soup on it. I said yes, but soon forgot. In the throes of medication and ward rounds, being called to the phone for various reasons, answering call buzzers, writing my documentation, making sure Doris doesn't climb out of bed again, escorting patients to and from the CT scanner, transferring patients to other wards – I forgot. My elderly patients’ daughter was annoyed, I remember she kept asking and I kept saying "in a minute", this made matters worse. She got annoyed, so that I ended up avoiding her altogether. How long does it take to give her the sheet? Five minutes tops, so why not get the sheet? MY priority was the tasks for the whole ward, tasks that are measured and audited on how well the ward performs by the Trust; filling out the observations correctly, adhering to the escalation policy, completing the 20 page safety booklet, completing the admission paperwork, ensuring everyone had their medication on time, making sure no one fell – changing a sheet with a small spot of soup on it was not on my priority list. It was a priority for my patients’ family. My patient was elderly, frail and probably wouldn’t get out of hospital alive this time. Her daughter was the only family she had left. It’s no wonder families feel that they are not listened to, are invisible, are getting in the way and not valued. These feelings do not encourage a healthy relationship between patients/families and healthcare workers. Studies have shown that involving patients and families in care is vital to ensure patient safety. Patients and their relatives have the greatest knowledge of patients and can often pick up subtle signs physiological deterioration before this is identified by staff or monitoring systems (O’dell et al, 2011). If our relationship is strained, how can we, as nurses, advocate for the safety of our patients? So, what impact does low staffing have on the staff member? "Fully staffed today!" The mood lifts at handover. People are sat up, smiling, quiet excitable chatter is heard. This uplifting sentence is quickly followed by either: "Let’s keep this quiet" or "someone will be moved" or "someone will have to move to XX ward as they are down three nurses". Morale is higher when wards are fully staffed. The mood is different. There are people to help with patient care, staff can take their breaks at reasonable times, staff may be able to get home on time and there is emotional support given by staff to other staff – a camaraderie. The feeling does not last long. Another department is ‘three nurses down’. Someone must move to cover the shortfall. No one wants to go When you get moved, you often get given the ‘heavy’ or ‘confused’ patients. Not only that, you are working with a different team with different dynamics – you are an outsider. This makes speaking up difficult, asking for help difficult, everything is difficult: the ward layout, where equipment is stored, where to find documentation, drugs are laid out differently in the cupboard, the clinical room layout is not the same. The risk of you getting something wrong has increased; this is a human factors nightmare, the perfect storm. I am in fear of losing my PIN (NMC registration) at times. At some point I am going to make a mistake. I can’t do the job I have been trained to do safely. The processes that have been designed to keep me and my patients safe are not robust. If anything, it is to protect the safety and reputation of the Trust, that’s what it feels like. Being fully staffed is a rarity. Being moved to a different department happens, on some wards more than others. Staff dread coming to work for threat of being moved into a different specialty. Just because you trained to work on a respiratory, doesn’t mean you can now work on a gynae ward. We are not robots you can move from one place to another. I can see that moving staff is the best option to ensure efficiency; but at what cost? Another problem in being chronically short staffed is that it becomes the norm. We have been ‘coping’ with three nurses down for so long, that ‘management’ look at our template. Is the template correct, we could save money here? If we had written guidance on safe staffing levels, we still have the problem of recruitment and retention of staff; there are not enough of us to go around. Thoughts please... Does this resonate with you? Has anyone felt that they feel ‘unsafe’ giving care? What power do we have as a group to address this issue of safe staffing levels? References 1. Wears RL, Hollnagel E, Braithwaite J, eds. The Resilience of Everyday Clinical Work. 2015. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. 2. Griffiths P et al. The association between nurse staffing and omissions in nursing care: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2018: 74 (7): 1474-1487. 3. Recio-Saucedo A et al. What impact does nursing care left undone have on patient outcomes? Review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2018; 27(11-12): 2248-2259. 4. O’dell M et al. Call 4 Concern: patient and relative activated critical care outreach. British Journal of Nursing 2001; 19 (22): 1390-1395.
  6. Content Article

    Walk on by...

    Anonymous
    It's midnight on the acute floor, just before Christmas. As I walk through the Emergency Department (ED), I can hear the ambulances reverse up to the door, people shouting, doors opening and closing, phones ringing and the general white noise of the department. You wouldn’t know it was night-time at all, the lights are beaming and it's as noisy now as it is in the day. I am a junior doctor. I’m on my fourth night shift of six. I have a patient on the acute medical admission unit that I need to check up on. I take the opportunity to seek some darkness and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the ED. As I go into the unit, I spot a young man in his 20s. He has a carer at his bedside. I stop. I say "hi"’ to the carer and just take a quick glance at the saturation probe that is on the young man’s finger. It’s reading 94% (normal is >95%). "Is that number of 94% normal for Eddie*?" I ask the carer. "Yes" he confirms. "What about the heart rate, that’s reading 140?" I asked, but didn’t want to come across alarmed, as this is quite high. "No. It usually reads 90. I was worried, but assumed you were dealing with it". My time is limited, I should be checking on my patient I originally came in to see. I have now seen a vulnerable adult with an abnormally high heart rate. However, the nurses are here… they can act on it , can’t they? I need to see my patient. I have patients backing up in ED, what about the four-hour target? Those thoughts go through my head in a split second. I now find myself pulling up a chair alongside Eddie and his carer. I find out that he has been admitted as his feeding tube had fallen out; he is here to have it replaced in the morning in theatre. I find out that it had fallen out 18 hours ago. As Eddie is unable to swallow without the risk of choking, he relies on the tube for all his medication and fluids. I take a look at the observations. Respiratory rate 18, heart rate 140, blood pressure 89/48, aprexial, not confused. He has a NEWS2 Score of 6. I see a sepsis screening tool that has been completed. It has been deemed that Eddie has a high suspicion of sepsis. But... he’s only come in for a tube change? I use the expertise of the carer. I find out that Eddie hasn’t had any fluids all day and his pads have been dry. At this point he should have had 3 litres of fluid via his tube. He also has not had his medication for his seizures. This is vitally important as it is highly likely he will seize this admission. I put some fluids up. I need to be quite aggressive with replacing his fluids as he may go into acute kidney injury. I write up his epilepsy medication, this time via his cannular. I explain to the nurses to give hourly observations and to call me if there are any problems. I check on Eddie that morning. He’s bright as a button. Smiling and ready for his tube replacement. If I walked on by, what might have happened? Eddie would continue to be treated for sepsis when he wasn’t septic and received antibiotics he didn’t need. Eddie would become more dehydrated and possibly acquired an acute kidney injury. Eddie may have suffered a seizure that could have been prevented. Due to these complications, Eddie may not have been fit for his tube replacement. Eddie's length of stay may have been increased, therefore increasing his risk of contracting a hospital acquired infection. What stopped me from walking by? Eddie reminded me of my brother, *Sam. My brother has cerebral palsy and needs 24-hour care. He’s funny, he can wrap mum around his little finger, he can play pranks on you, he is still my annoying little brother but coming into hospital always poses such a huge stress on us as a family, not to mention Sam. He always has people around him that know him. So, coming into this environment is alien. Due to his physical problems, he doesn’t ‘fit the normal patient mould'. Will he get the right treatment? Will he get his medication on time? Will there be anywhere for the carer to stay? Will the nurses know how to re-position Sam? How will they communicate to Sam? Will they read his patient passport? Will they act on his patient passport? Or will they walk on by? *Names in this blog have been changed for confidentiality purposes.
  7. Content Article
    What’s the worst thing you have ever seen? For those that work on the frontline in healthcare you may have heard this question asked many times… usually by friends or people you meet when you are trying to relax outside of work. They often want to hear some awful blood and guts story, something unusual being stuck in an unfortunate person’s orifice or a heroic story of a dramatic rescue. We all have something to tell along these lines. Especially when you work in ED, like me. Yep, they are awful episodes, especially for those involved, these awful stories often happen in ED. Car crashes, trauma, cardiac arrests, injured, sick children… you name it, I’ve probably seen it. When tragic things happen, we have support to get us through them. We have support from our wonderful work colleagues who understand – most of the time black humour gets us through. I want to tell you about the worst thing I ever saw, I still see, we all still see. It wasn’t a one off, I didn’t get any support, we didn’t get any support. In fact, it went unnoticed and it happened multiple times and often for hours on end. It’s like being in a recurrent bad dream, the trouble is that it isn’t a dream. It’s real and it's probably happening in hospitals up and down the country today. Rose tinted spectacles… It’s a Tuesday afternoon. It’s a warm, sunny day. I have had 2 whole days off. I’m rested and ready for the day ahead. I drive to work in a good mood. Today is going to be a great day. I walk up to the ED entrance. My hopes of a good day are dashed. There are already eight ambulances outside. I hear the sirens of another in the distance coming up the road. Perhaps the department was already empty… it might not be that bad? I step inside. Two paramedics wheel an elderly man up to the desk. He looks frail, he has a bruised face and blood running from his nose. He looks frightened. He has fallen in his rest home. "… you will have to park him in the corridor, love..." The corridor is now an ‘area’ in our ED. It’s not a walkway between two clinical areas, it’s now clinical area itself. We even have allocated a ‘corridor nurse’ to care for this group of patients. The corridor is full. Each side of the corridor there are people. People on trollies, in chairs, in wheelchairs. I feel their eyes staring at me. Someone is calling out for water, someone has vomited on the floor, an elderly lady is wandering around with her hospital gown on, it's not done up properly and everyone can see her bottom. Every few steps I take I hear someone ask when they are going to be seen. I see a couple crying, trying to console each other in full view of the onlooking people who have nothing else to do but wait. I must walk down to get to the staff room to start my shift. I feel like I am running the gauntlet. I need to get changed and get on with moving people out of the department. I hear staff members muttering "thank god the day staff are here" and "good luck, you’re going to need it". Ok, If I was able to nurse the way I have been taught; ensuring patients are listened to, made comfortable, had medication on time, are given food and water, turned if required, clean… basic nursing care, maybe I wouldn’t feel as crap as I do when I go home. Maybe I’m in the wrong job? But… this type of nursing takes time. Time is forever ticking, especially in ED. It's all about flow. Get them seen, treated and moved – within 12 hours. Sounds a long time 12 hours, doesn’t it? It’s not in healthcare. Blink, 12 hours have gone in a flash. Site managers constantly circle the nurses’ station with their clip boards, trying to strategically place patients on appropriate wards. Single sexed bays, side room, isolation rooms, monitored beds, surgical, medical, trauma, elective, the list goes on. It must be like playing one of those online strategy games, but it never ends. I’m now waiting for handover. The noise is deafening. White noise. I try and block out other people’s instructions, conversations, phones ringing, doors banging. My senses are overloaded. Not only is it too loud, the smell of stale alcohol and vomit is left in the air from an overdose that came in earlier, the irony smell of blood left by lady with a bleeding ulcer, the heat of the corridor and a hint of pseudomonas from a leaking leg ulcer – there are no windows here to give us any relief. This is my next 12 hours. People who are wearing lanyards appear. I see them when things go ‘tits up’. No idea who they are, what they do or where they come from. Never have they spoken to me and I have never seen them speak to a patient. They arrive in immaculate clothing and smell fresh, whereas I have been here a few hours and already blended in with the current smells. They are obsessed with how long people have stayed in the department. I see them frown and start talking to the site managers, who then speak to our nurse in charge, who then will speak to me. "We need to move X number of patients out of here in the next 2 hours." So, if I choose to help a man who may have soiled himself – this may take up to 40 minutes. That’s too long. I should have been preparing my patients to move off. But then if I don’t help him, the ward he moves onto will report me. Notes to prepare, IV antibiotics to give with in 1 hour, comfort rounds every 2 hours, mouth care, turn charts, feeding regimes, safety documentation to be completed, toileting, venepuncture, sepsis pathways, NEWS charting, escalation protocols… so many targets to be met. I can’t do this. It’s impossible. ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’ Every time I walk down that corridor – I say this in my head. I have failed. We have failed our patients. That is the worst thing I have ever seen.
  8. Community Post
    What do hub members think about use of the term "near miss" vs "close call" vs "good catch" to describe errors that are caught before the reach or harm the patient? If you have a favorite, can you say why?
  9. Community Post
    Do any areas of healthcare capture ALL near misses and act on them? What systems do you use?
  10. Content Article
    In this five minute video, the authors chose to focus on the main theme – the human cost to healthcare workforce when there is a failure to cultivate a just culture and systems approach overall, but especially when managing unfortunate harm events.
  11. Content Article
    National data from SHOT (Serious Hazards of Transfusion) indicates there were 792 ‘wrong blood in tube’ near misses (where the error was spotted in time and no patient suffered harm) relating to blood transfusion samples, in 2018 across England. This doesn’t account for blood samples taken for any other purpose. The HSIB report showed why these incidents happen and most importantly what can be done to reduce the risk of it happening again. The investigation looked at all the factors involved and found evidence to show that electronic systems could help staff in busy environments, by making the processes easier and more efficient, to manage and reduce the risk to patients.
  12. Content Article
    Medication errors are not usually required to be reported to the CGC unless in these circumstances: death injury abuse, or allegation of abuse incident reported to or investigated by the police. Challenge: How do social care and non-NHS providers ensure that concerns are raised and there is a safe reporting culture?
  13. Content Article
    The Heinrich/Bird safety pyramid is presented in an article in Risk Engineering. It includes an infographic with Heinrich's Accident Triangle. This triangle suggests that the ratio between fatal accidents, accidents, injuries and minor incidents are similar across all industries. It highlights the importance of investigating the minor incidents to present fatal incidents. Challenge: In healthcare, are we investigating the wrong incidents?
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