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Found 57 results
  1. Content Article
    Complaints from staff are not being heeded. Why is it that healthcare staff's opinions and pleas for their safety and the safety of patients do not matter? Here are just some examples of where safety has been compromised: Disposable gowns are being reused by keeping them in a room and then reusing after 3 days. There were no fit tests. Staff were informed by management that "one size fits all, no testers or kits available and no other trusts are doing it anyway". Only when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced recently that fit tests were a legal requirement, then fit tests were given. I queried about fit checks only to discover that it was not part of the training and, therefore, staff were wearing masks without seals for three months before fit tests were introduced and even after fit tests! I taught my colleagues how to do fit checks via telephone. There was no processes in place at the hospital to aid staff navigation through the pandemic (no red or green areas, no donning or doffing stations, no system for ordering PPE if it ran out); it was very much carry on as normal. A hospital pathway was made one week ago, unsigned and not referenced by governance, and with no instructions on how to don and doff. Guidelines from the Association for Perioperative Practice (AFPP) and Public Health England (PHE) for induction and extubation are not being followed – only 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes. Guidelines state 5 minutes is only for laminar flow theatres. None of the theatres in this hospital have laminar flow. One of my colleagues said she was not happy to cover an ENT list because she is BAME and at moderate/high risk with underlying conditions. She had not been risk assessed and she felt that someone with lower or no risk could do the list. She was removed from the ENT list, told she would be reprimanded on return to work and asked to write a report on her unwillingness to help in treating patients. The list had delays and she was told if she had done the list it would not have suffered from delays. Just goes to show, management only care about the work and not the staff. It was only after the list, she was then risk assessed. Diathermy smoke evacuation is not being used as recommended. Diathermy is a surgical technique which uses heat from an electric current to cut tissue or seal bleeding vessels. Diathermy emissions can contain numerous toxic gases, particles and vapours and are usually invisible to the naked eye. Inhalation can adversely affect surgeons’ and theatre staff’s respiratory system. If staff get COVID-19 and die, they become a statistic and work goes on as usual. The examples listed above are all safety issues for patients and staff but, like me, my colleagues are being ignored and informed "it's a business!" when these safety concerns are raised at the hospital. The only difference is they are permanent staff and their shifts cannot be blocked whereas I was a locum nurse who found my shifts blocked after I spoke up. Why has it been allowed to carry on? Why is there no Freedom To Speak Up Guardian at the hospital? Why has nothing been done? We can all learn from each other and we all have a voice. Sir Francis said we need to "Speak Up For Change", but management continues to be reactive when we try to be proactive and initiate change. This has to stop! Actions needed We need unannounced inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and HSE when we make reports to them. Every private hospital must have an infection control team and Freedom To Speak Up Guardian in post.
  2. News Article
    Several acute trust chief executives have told HSJ they are keen to resume more planned operations, as the peak of new coronavirus cases has passed and many hospital beds remain empty. Some trust leaders said they believed routine elective surgery could be restarted as early as next week. There is also tension between NHS hospitals — some of which are keen to resume their own planned care, especially the more urgent operations — and a desire to use private hospitals, which have been booked out by NHS England. The government said yesterday the number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 has fallen by 10% over the last week. Around 42% of acute beds are now unoccupied, according to figures seen by HSJ. The peak of new infection cases in hospitals was at about 3,000 on 1 April — the number is now about half that figure. However, there will be fears nationally about the NHS seeking to return to normal and being caught out by ongoing COVID-19 pressures, or by a second peak of infections. Read full story Source: HSJ, 24 April 2020
  3. News Article
    Major transplant centres have stopped performing many of their procedures due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the national coordinating body says a complete cessation “may only be days away”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 April 2020
  4. News Article
    NHS hospitals have been told to cancel operations in an effort to free up 30,000 beds to create space for an expected surge in coronavirus patients. In a letter to NHS bosses today, NHS England said hospitals should look to cancel all non-urgent surgeries for at least three months starting from 15 April. Hospitals were given discretion to begin winding down activity immediately to help train staff and begin work setting up makeshift intensive care wards. Any cancer operations and patients needing emergency treatment will not be affected. The letter from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “The operational aim is to expand critical care capacity to the maximum; free up 30,000 (or more) of the English NHS’s 100,000 general and acute beds." In the meantime hospitals were told to do as much elective surgery, such as hip operations and knee replacements, as possible and to use private sector hospitals which it said could free up 12 to 15,000 beds across England. Sir Simon also said patients who did not need to be in hospital should be discharged as quickly as possible adding: “Community health providers must take immediate full responsibility for urgent discharge of all eligible patients identified by acute providers on a discharge list. For those needing social care, emergency legislation before Parliament this week will ensure that eligibility assessments do not delay discharge. Read full story Source: The Independent, 17 March 2020
  5. 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.
  6. News Article
    System leaders are telling hospitals to prepare for a potential suspension of all non-emergency elective procedures which could last for months, as they get ready for a surge in coronavirus patients. Senior sources told HSJ NHS England had asked trusts to risk stratify elective patients in readiness for having to suspend non-emergency work to free up capacity. HSJ understands trusts have been told to firm up their plans for how they would incrementally reduce and potentially suspend non-emergency operations, while also protecting “life saving” procedures such as cancer treatment. An announcement is expected soon, with patients affected given at least 48 hours notice. It has not been decided how long it might last for, as the duration of any surge in cases and acute demand is unknown. But HSJ has been told it could stretch out for several months, with three or four months discussed, which would potentially mean tens of or even hundreds of thousands of cancelled operations. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 12 March 2020
  7. Content Article
    My health has always been a ‘challenge’ as they say. I had a stoma in 1988, when I was 28 years old, for bowel disease. They were never sure if it was Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but I was more than happy to kiss my rotten colon goodbye. It restored my bowel health and I carried on working and living my life with my husband and child. Two years after the ileostomy, I had further abdominal problems and a MRI suggested ovarian cancer. I had an emergency laparotomy which revealed severe endometriosis which had obliterated my whole pelvis and infiltrated my internal organs. The gynaecologist closed me up and said nothing could be done as my pelvis was ‘frozen’ and I would have to be treated medically. The condition plagued me for the next 20 years; I developed cysts in the pelvis which were drained repeatedly. My health was at times poor but I still managed to work and live my life. In 2010, my gynaecologist retired and I was referred to a new team. They were based 80 miles from where I lived, which was a nuisance but I felt it was worth the journey to have the best. They were adamant I needed a hysterectomy – they were not happy with the recent imaging and felt one of the cysts looked suspect. I spent years putting this off as I was very fearful. I had been told it could be very easy to make things much worse. In 2012 my mum had a massive brain haemorrhage and I became her carer, but by 2014 they were still saying I needed the surgery to find out what the suspect mass actually was so, reluctantly, I agreed. January 2015 The hysterectomy went ahead at a private hospital. I was in BUPA, my mother was brain damaged and I was her carer, I needed this op out of the way so I could go back to caring for her. I awoke from the surgery to be told it had been very difficult – I felt totally wiped out. Two days after the operation, there was no improvement. I was encouraged to get up from the bed; I could barely move but I managed a few steps when I felt something running down my legs forming a green puddle on the floor. My bowel had perforated and the contents were flooding out of my vagina. My consultant was away and I was transferred late at night to the local NHS hospital. That was a nightmare in itself as they at first wouldn’t accept me. I lay there in A&E with warm liquid pumping out of me with every spasm of my bowel. I was convinced it was blood and I tried not to think of my loved ones whom I thought I’d never see again. My poor husband looked on helplessly; he spent a freezing night in the car as he wanted to be near me. I spent 3 months in hospital being fed through my central vein. I was told I may never eat or drink again and my whole life just fell apart. It was explained the suspect mass was in fact a twisted mess of bowel, adhesions and goodness knows what possibly caused by the repeated aspirations I’d had for the endometriosis. I was told because of the perforation I now had a fistula which is essentially a connection between my small bowel and my skin. Despite my numerous surgical experiences, I had never heard of such a thing but Dr Google soon educated me and it did not make good reading. I became seriously depressed, wanting my life to end. I was discharged in the spring of 2015 to a totally different world. I could by now eat small amounts but the holes appearing on my abdominal wall were evidence the fistula had not healed. I was too afraid to move as any activity meant I’d have ominous discharges from various orifices. I totally lost confidence in myself, the doctors and the world in general… I became a recluse. Life with a fistula was difficult. Apart from the constant dressings required to contain the output, I was in permanent pain and suffered frequent infections. Considering I had gone into hospital reasonably well and come out like this was almost too much to bear. I tried to access mental health support but I was put on a waiting list whilst my mental state got progressively worse. I was told I would have to wait for two years for the fistula to be repaired. It was a long wait, my daughter had a baby so that kept me going and I looked forward to being free of this demon within. I missed the old capable me so much. March 2017 The repair op took place this time in the NHS hospital, albeit as a private patient again. I couldn’t wait any longer and so once again made use of my medical insurance. Again I had serious complications. The days that followed the surgery were horrific, I truly wanted to die. My gut had stopped working, a condition called ileus. Bile was building up in the stomach so I had a nasogastric tube inserted; the thirst was causing me to have hallucinations. I tried to impress upon everyone how ill I was feeling, but I didn’t feel believed; they told me I was anxious and all my problems were normal post op things. My husband called as usual to visit, getting more worried as each day was passing. I had spiked a temperature of 39.6⁰C. I cried into his chest as I tried to sit up to relieve the horrific symptoms I was experiencing. Next minute I had no breath, I was suffocating. My husband called for help and, even at that point, I was told I was having a panic attack until the nurse saw my oxygen levels – they were 71% which was dangerously low. I was having a stage 1 respiratory arrest, and I was rushed to ICU and spent days fighting for my life. A three month hospital stay followed and this further catastrophe had resulted in a fistula worse than the one I went in with. I now had to wear three stoma bags, two of which leaked constantly. I felt a mutilated mess. Again, I left hospital a broken shell, with no support apart from my family who were also finding it hard to accept what had happened to me. Life now... It’s now 3 years since the failed repair and I have never recovered. It actually made things much worse. As well as the fistulae and three stoma bags, I now have bladder problems as part of my bladder was excised during the last op and gallbladder disease thanks to the parenteral nutrition. The inflammation in my body has led to autoimmune diseases, such as scleritis, which is an agonising and destructive eye condition. The whole awful experience has left me a broken, psychological wreck. I finally accessed mental health support at the end of 2019 and have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Life is difficult. In my mind there are so many unresolved issues which have plunged me into a deep pit of depression I can’t get out of. The therapy I now receive is ‘systemic’ so basically addresses how my husband and I are responding to the trauma, rather than the trauma itself. The initial trauma of my surgery going so wrong has now been followed by a second trauma of lack of support, feelings of worthlessness and the consequences of having a complex condition whilst living in rural west Wales where my local hospital can’t treat me. How I wish I’d said NO to that fateful hysterectomy! But we don’t do we. The surgeons are the experts, they lead and we follow, that’s how it works. Lamb to the slaughter springs to mind. That is probably unfair, my surgical luck was bound to run out one day, but I am angry at losing one of life’s most important gifts – good health. To make matters worse I’ve discovered that the suspect mass that they told me had to come out, had actually been identified 30 years previously. It was a harmless benign fibroma. That makes things harder to bear as I realise I probably never even needed the surgery. I didn’t complain or even ask many questions as I was too ill, traumatised and exhausted. My mother ended up in a home, my marriage is understandably struggling, my husband and I no longer work. I had nothing left to challenge anyone. My psychologist says I need answers to help me move on but I’m now told it’s too late. I have to go back to that hospital because I am now so complex my local hospitals won’t treat me. It’s a 3 hour round trip to a place that absolutely terrifies me. An enterocutaneous fistula is a very rare complication of surgery. But as I told my Consultant, it’s only rare until it happens to you. Then statistics become irrelevant. They seem to overlook the fact that there is a person behind that tiny statistic, who has to somehow learn to live again with all the fallout of that disastrous surgical experience.
  8. News Article
    The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) is calling for action to be taken after a recent report suggests little progress has been made to prevent errors within the perioperative environment. The patient safety charity made the call following the release of NHS Improvement’s latest Never Event report; Provisional publication of Never Events reported as occurring between 1 April and 31 December 2019, which revealed an alarming 81% (284) of the never events recorded happened while a patient was on the operating table. Lindsay Keeley, patient safety and quality lead at AfPP said: “The survey highlighted that there’s a need to take action now if we are to support the healthcare profession in reducing the occurrence of never events. It has become clear that receptive team culture, a strong leadership team and better support for staff is what will help to reduce the risk of a never event occurring. It’s vital that those in leadership positions begin to understand the contributory factors in the recurrence of never events and the challenges faced by staff." She went on to highlight some of the recent initiative taking place: “What is promising is that there are practitioners who are developing new, practical and simple solutions every day that can support other team members and can be used within theatres across the country." "One example is Rob Tomlinson’s introduction of the 10,000 Feet initiative – a safety initiative designed to cut through noise and distraction within the theatre environment, particularly at critical points of the patient’s journey. If correctly implemented, initiatives like this can cut through the hierarchies that stop people feeling unable to speak up when they see something that shouldn’t be happening, thus reducing the occurrence of never events" “We of course need to be mindful that there will always be challenges within perioperative practice in the form of interruptions and distractions, but the key is how as practitioners we engage with this to recognise and reduce never events.” Read full story Source: Clinical Services Journal, 25 February 2020
  9. Content Article
    Recently Dr Peter Brennan tweeted a video of a plane landing at Heathrow airport during Storm Dennis. I looked at this with emotion, and with hundreds of in-flight safety information, human factors, communication and interpersonal skills running through my head. I thought of the pilot and his crew, the cabin crew attendants and the passengers, and how scared and worried they would have felt. On a flight, the attendants will take us through the safety procedures before take off. We are all guilty, I am sure, of partly listening because it is routine and we have heard it all before. Then suddenly we are in the midst of a violent storm and we need to utilise that information! We ardently listen to the attendants instructions and pray for the captain to land the plane safely, which he does with great skill! I now want to link this scenario to the care of our patients in the operating theatre. They are also on a journey to a destination of a safe recovery and they depend on the consultants and the team to get them there safely. Despite being routine, we need to do all the safety checks for each patient and follow the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist as it is written: ask all the questions, involve all members of the surgical team, even do the fire risk assessment score if it is implemented in your theatre. The pilot of that flight during Storm Dennis certainly did not think he was on a routine flight. He had a huge responsibility for the lives of his crew and many passengers! We can only operate on one patient at a time. Always remember, even though the operation may be routine for us, it may be the first time for the patient – so let's make it a safe journey for each patient. Do it right all the time!
  10. News Article
    A baby with a serious heart condition has died after she received an infection from mould in a Seattle hospital's operating room, her mother says. Elizabeth Hutt was born with a heart condition that she battled for the entirety of her six-month-long life. The young child underwent three open heart surgeries, and after the third one is when it's believed she contracted an Aspergillus mould infection in the hospital's operating room. The mould in the hospital's operating rooms was first detected in November, around the same time as the child's third surgery. It was later determined the infection was contracted from the mould discovered in three of the 14 operating rooms at the hospital in November. The mould came from the hospital's air-handling units in the operating rooms, and 14 patients have developed infections from the mould since 2001, the hospital revealed. Seven of those 14 children have since died from their infections. Elizabeth's parents have joined a class action suit against Seattle Children's Hospital in January, which alleges facility managers knew about the mould since 2005 and failed to fix the problem. Read full story Source: The Independent, 14 February 2020
  11. News Article
    A young woman was left with a retained foreign object, after surgery in an India hospital. A checklist could have avoided her death. The response from the health officials was: “We have issued a show-cause notice to the staff seeking an explanation. We will initiate departmental action based on their replies and finding of our inquiry.” In the fields of healthcare quality and patient safety, such punitive measures of “naming and shaming” have not worked. T.S. Ravikumar, President, AIIMS Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, moved back to India eight years ago with the key motive to improve accountability and safety in healthcare delivery. He believes that we have a long way to go in reducing “preventable harm” in hospitals and the health system in general. "We need to move away from fixing blame, to creating a 'blame-free culture' in healthcare, yet, with accountability. This requires both systems design for safe care and human factors engineering for slips and violations". "Providing safe care without harm is a 'team sport', and we need to work as teams and not in silos, with mutual respect and ability to speak up where we observe any deviation or non-compliance with rules, says Ravikumar. Basic quality tools and root-cause analysis for adverse events must become routine. Weekly mortality/morbidity conferences are routine in many countries, but not a routine learning tool in India. He proposes acceleration of the recent initiative of the DGHS of the Government of India to implement a National Patient Safety Framework, and set up an analytical “never events” or sentinel events reporting structure. Read full story Source: The Hindu, 12 January 2020
  12. News Article
    A health board has cancelled planned operations at four of its hospitals "in the interest of patient safety". Hywel Dda University Health Board made the decision after "an extraordinary weekend" of "critical pressures". On Monday, inpatient operations were cancelled at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals in mid and west Wales. The health board said it had contacted the patients affected and outpatient appointments continued as normal. No decisions have been taken yet to cancel more non-emergency operations on Tuesday, it added. Dr Philip Kloer, the health board's medical director, said the weekend saw hospitals "at a level of escalation not seen before". "It is in the interest of patient safety that we have postponed planned operations today," he added. Plaid Cymru's shadow minister for health, Helen Mary Jones, said the decision to cancel operations was "deeply concerning". She said that patients in Wales "deserve so much better". Read full story Source: BBC News, 6 January 2020
  13. News Article
    More than 80% of patients who have signs of a deadly sepsis infection before high-risk surgery are not getting antibiotics fast enough, a major NHS report has warned. Sepsis kills an estimated 44,000 people in England every year and rapid access to antibiotics within the first hour after diagnosis is vital to halt the infection. However, a review of performance across 179 NHS hospitals has found a majority of patients undergoing emergency bowel surgery are not getting medication early enough. A leak of the bowel can cause sepsis and while antibiotics will help treat the infection, surgery is essential to repair any sepsis-causing leak. The Royal College of Anaesthetists, which carried out the study for the NHS, said although the number of patients getting surgery in time had improved over the last five years, the numbers receiving antibiotics within an hour had not. Read full story Source: The Independent, 4 January 2020
  14. News Article
    A woman has died after being set on fire during surgery in Romania, the country’s health ministry has said, in a case that has cast a spotlight on the ailing Romanian health system. The patient, who had pancreatic cancer, died on Sunday after suffering burns to 40% of her body when surgeons used an electric scalpel despite her being treated with an alcohol-based disinfectant. Contact with the flammable disinfectant caused combustion and the patient “ignited like a torch”, Emanuel Ungureanu, a Romanian politician, said. A nurse threw a bucket of water on the 66-year-old woman to prevent the fire from spreading. The health ministry said it would investigate the “unfortunate incident”, which took place on 22 December. “The surgeons should have been aware that it is prohibited to use an alcohol-based disinfectant during surgical procedures performed with an electric scalpel,” the Deputy Minister, Horatiu Moldovan, said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 30 December 2019 the hub has a number of posts on preventing surgical fires: Surgical fires: nightmarish “never events” persist MHRA. Paraffin-based skin emollients on dressings or clothing: fire risk (18 April 2016) National Patient Safety Agency: Fire hazard with paraffin-based skin products (Nov 2007) How I raised awareness of fires in the operating theatre
  15. Content Article
    In this article, Glynns Solicitors gives advice on what to do if you have suffered a diathermy burn during surgery.
  16. Content Article
    The AANA has provided a set of resources, including videos, posters, tools and news items, to increase knowledge about and take steps to mitigate the risk of surgical fires.
  17. Content Article
    This book brings together all aspects of perioperative practice in one easy-to-read book: Moves through the patient journey, providing support to perioperative practitioners in all aspects of their role. Covers key information on perioperative emergencies. Includes material on advanced skills to support Advanced Practitioners. Each topic is covered in two pages, allowing for easy revision and reference. This is a must-have resource for operating department practitioners and students, theatre nurses and nursing students, and trainee surgeons and anaesthetists.
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