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Found 184 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
    An independent provider’s NHS contract has been suspended, and a harm review is to be carried out on patients who have faced a long wait. Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group suspended DMC Healthcare’s contract to provide dermatology services in north Kent “to ensure patient safety” on Friday. It said it had showing some patients had been on waiting lists longer than they should have been. It is unable to say how many patients are likely to be involved in the harm review, but it is expected to focus on those who have waited longer than they should or where harm is suspected. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 24 June 2020
  3. Community Post
    What is your experience of having a hysterscopy? We would like to hear - good or bad so that we can help campaign for safer , harm free care.
  4. News Article
    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued a plan for re-starting routine inspections — but has been warned by the NHS Confederation that the health service needs this “like a hole in the head”. The organisation said there would be a “managed return” of “routine inspections” in the autumn. It also stated in a statement today: ”Inspectors are now scheduling inspections of higher risk services to take place over the summer.” But the CQC later insisted to HSJ that this was not a change to its current policy, in place since the beginning of the UK COVID-19 peak, as it would only be inspecting in response to information it receives which raises “serious concerns”. The CQC suspended its routine inspections in March – and has instead been calling healthcare providers and only physically attending where there are serious concerns about harm, abuse or human rights breaches. The new approach to regulation, which the CQC called its “emergency support framework”, was criticised by 11 older people’s and disabled groups, which said the decision not to carry out routine inspections broke human rights and equalities laws. Read full story Source: HSJ, 17 June 2020
  5. News Article
    There should be independent reviews of the NHS’ readiness for a potential second major outbreak of coronavirus in the UK, senior doctors are arguing. The Royal College of Anaesthetists said a series of reviews should be carried out, overseen by an independent group formed from clinical royal college representatives, independent scientists and academics. It would encompass investigation of what happened to care quality during the peak of infection and demand through March, April and May — there are major concerns that harm and death was caused by knock of effects, with some health services closed and people being afraid to use others. Hospitals were unable to provide many other services as staff, including most anaesthetists, were redeployed to help with critical care. Ravi Mahajan, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, told HSJ areas such as capacity, workforce and protective equipment were key issues to be reviewed. He said: “We can’t wait for [the pandemic] to finish and then review. [The reviews] have to be dynamic, ongoing, and the sooner they start the better. Read full story Source: HSJ, 17 June 2020
  6. News Article
    Young people with learning disabilities are being driven to self-harm after being prevented from seeing their families during the coronavirus lockdown in breach of their human rights, a new report finds. The Joint Committee on Human Rights warned that the situation for children and young people in mental health hospitals had reached the point of “severe crisis” during the pandemic due to unlawful blanket bans on visits, the suspension of routine inspections and the increased use of restraint and solitary confinement. The report concluded that while young inpatients' human rights were already being breached before the pandemic, the coronavirus lockdown has put them at greater risk – and called on the NHS to instruct mental health hospitals to resume visits. It highlighted cases in which young people had been driven to self-harm, including Eddie, a young man with a learning disability whose mother, Adele Green, had not been able to visit him since 14 March. “When the lockdown came, it was quite quick in the sense that the hospital placed a blanket ban on anybody going in and anybody going out,” said Ms Green. “Within a week, with the fear and anxiety, he tried to take his own life, which really blew us away. We were mortified.” The Committee is urging NHS England to write to all hospitals, including private ones, stating they must allow visits unless there is a specific reason relating to an individual case why it would not be safe, and said the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should be responsible for ensuring national guidance is followed. Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 June 2020
  7. News Article
    The pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to settle a legal action by hundreds of Scottish women who claimed they suffered serious injuries from the company’s pelvic mesh implants. The settlement came as four lead cases brought by women who suffered pain and other serious side effects from the implants, made by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, were about to reach court in Edinburgh. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 2 June 2020
  8. News Article
    The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat depression should be immediately suspended, a study says. ECT involves passing electric currents through a patient's brain to cause seizures or fits. Dr John Read, of the University of East London said there was "no place" for ECT in evidence-based medicine due to risks of brain damage, but the Royal College of Psychiatrists said ECT offers "life-saving treatment" and should continue in severe cases. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently recommends the use of ECT for some cases of moderate or severe depression as well as catatonia and mania. However, peer-reviewed research published in the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry concludes "the high risk of permanent memory loss and the small mortality risk means that its use should be immediately suspended". In response to the study, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said ECT should not be suspended for "some forms of severe mental illness". Dr Rupert McShane, chair of the college's Committee on ECT and Related Treatments, said there was evidence showing "most people who receive ECT see an improvement in their condition". "For many, it can be a life-saving treatment," he said. "As with all treatments for serious medical conditions - from cancer to heart disease - there can be side-effects of differing severity, including memory loss." Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 June 2020
  9. 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
  10. News Article
    Hundreds of ventilators the UK government bought from China to relieve a major shortage are the wrong type and could kill patients, senior doctors have warned in a newly uncovered letter. The medical staff behind the letter say the devices were designed for use in ambulances rather than hospitals, had an "unreliable" oxygen supply and were of "basic" quality. Seen by Sky News' partner organisation NBC, the document also claims the ventilators cannot be cleaned properly, are an unfamiliar design and come with a confusing instruction manual. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove triumphantly announced the arrival of "300 ventilators from China" to help treat COVID-19 patients on 4 April. But the letter of warning from doctors was issued just nine days later. "We believe that if used, significant patient harm, including death, is likely," it says. Read full story Source: Sky News, 30 April 2020
  11. News Article
    An independent investigation into one of the worst maternity safety scandals in NHS history has written to 400 families today as the number of cases under investigation swell to almost 1,200. Despite the coronavirus crisis the review, chaired by midwifery expert Donna Ockenden, is continuing its work investigating poor maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust where dozens of babies died or suffered brain damage as a result of poor care over several decades. Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 April 2020
  12. News Article
    The NHS should expect a “huge number” of legal challenges relating to decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare lawyers have warned. The specialists said legal challenges against clinical commissioning groups and NHS providers would be inevitable, around issues such as breaches of human rights and clinical negligence claims. Francesca Burfield, a barrister specialising in children’s health and social care, told HSJ’s Healthcheck podcast: “I think there is going to be huge number of challenges. If and when we move through this there will not only be a public enquiry, [but] I anticipate judicial reviews, civil actions in relation to negligence claims and breach[es] of human rights….” She said criminal proceedings by the Care Quality Commission or Crown Prosecution Service would also be a possibility, around issues such as deprivation of liberty, neglect, safeguarding, and potential gross negligence manslaughter. Read full story Source: HSJ, 20 April 2020
  13. News Article
    An acute trust in the Midlands has contacted 136 women who received major treatment from a gynaecology consultant, after initial investigations revealed “unnecessary harm” to several patients. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 April 2020
  14. News Article
    “Recurrent safety risks” around clinical care at an embattled NHS trust’s maternity service have been identified in a report published on Tuesday. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has been investigating East Kent hospitals university NHS foundation trust since July 2018 after a series of baby deaths. Among those treated at the trust was Harry Richford, whose death was “wholly avoidable”, seven days after his emergency delivery in November 2017, an inquest found. Speaking on Tuesday, Harry’s grandfather Derek Richford said it is clear that sufficient lessons were not learned from his death. The independent report, published on Tuesday by the Department of Health and Social Care, discusses 24 maternity investigations undertaken since July 2018, including the deaths of three babies and two mothers. It said: “These investigations have enabled HSIB to identify recurrent safety risks around several key themes of clinical care in the trust’s maternity services.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 April 2020
  15. Content Article
    This HSIB summary report provides an overview of: the referrals caseload under the maternity investigations programme for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust the themes which were identified as indicative of patient safety risk to mothers and babies the engagement and escalation process that HSIB undertook with the trust and the wider system in response.
  16. News Article
    A campaign to reduce stillbirths, brain injury, and avoidable deaths in babies has failed to have any effect in the past three years, findings from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists show. The president of the college, Edward Morris, has urged maternity units across the UK to learn from the latest report and act on its recommendations. “We owe it to each and every person affected to find out why these deaths and harms occur in order to prevent future cases where possible,” he said. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 19 March 2020
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