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Found 21 results
  1. Content Article
    In our recent blog Analysing the Cumberlege Review; Who should join the dots for patient safety? we identified a number of key patient safety issues which were reflected in the Review’s findings. One theme running throughout the Review was a failure to engage patients in their care, most noticeably around the issue of informed consent. What is informed consent? The NHS definition of informed consent is that “the person must be given all of the information about what the treatment involves, including the benefits and risks, whether there are reasonable alternative treatments, and what will happen if treatment does not go ahead”.[1] The landmark UK Supreme Court judgement Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board case in 2015 reaffirmed this principle in law, setting out the legal duty of doctors to disclose information to patients regarding risks.[2] Review findings Patients being unable to make decisions on the basis of informed consent was a recurring theme in the review, manifesting itself in several ways: Patients’ consent not being sought - the Review heard from patients where consent was not given for the procedure carried out, particularly in cases for implanting pelvic mesh. The authors of the Review state that they were “appalled by the numbers of women who have come forward to say they never knew they had had mesh inserted, or where they gave consent for ‘tape’ insertion they did not know they were being implanted with polypropylene mesh”.[3] Patients lacking information – this was a consistent issue concerning patients regarding the three interventions considered by the Review: hormone pregnancy tests, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh implants. One specific example of this is the case of pregnant women taking sodium valproate as an epilepsy treatment without knowing that doing so could harm their unborn child. Despite efforts to make patients aware of this, it remains an issue, with women who are taking sodium valproate as a epilepsy treatment “still becoming pregnant without any knowledge of the risks”, lacking the information to make the decision about whether to continue with this medication.[4] Patients not being involved in decision making – the Review also heard from patients who raised concerns about the failure of informed consent as a result of doctors choosing not to share relevant information with patients for their decision-making. They refer to cases where doctors did not discuss the risks with women taking sodium valproate prior to pregnancies and “gave advice based on their own assumptions, without involving patients in the decision-making process”.[5] Concerns around the absence of informed consent go beyond the procedures focused on in the Review. On the hub, we have featured community discussions and patient accounts of these issues in relation to hysteroscopy procedures, while earlier in the year the Paterson Inquiry highlighted concerns about this, recommending that a short period should be introduced into surgical procedures to allow for patients to provide their consent.[6] How can we ensure informed consent is gained? The Cumberlege Review notes that, since the Montgomery ruling in 2015, there has been a significant increase in patient safety leaflets sharing information on risks of specific treatments, but that the sheer variety of these and differing consent forms can be “bewildering and a major source of confusion”.[7] The Review is supportive of an approach where information is conveyed in a clear and direct way, and where patient decision aids are used in complex conversations to support the consent process.[8] At Patient Safety Learning, we believe it is important that patients are not simply treated as passive participants in the process of their care. Informed consent is vital to respecting the rights of the patient, maintaining trust in the patient-clinician relationship and ensuring safe care. We have identified three calls for action which we believe are needed to tackle the failure of informed consent: All patient information should be co-produced with patients to ensure that it meets patient needs for decision-making. Repositories of information and good practice are put in place so that organisations don’t have to re-invent the wheel but instead can learn from experience. Patient information for medication and medical devices should be reviewed and signed off by the NHS to ensure that it is not solely the responsibility of manufacturers. What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you had an experience where you feel that you have not given informed consent before receiving medical care? Are you a healthcare professional who can share resources for good practice? Let us know in the comments below to ensure our calls for action are informed by your experience and insights. References NHS England, Consent to treatment, Last Accessed 16 July 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/consent-to-treatment/ UK Supreme Court, Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board, 2015. https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2013-0136-judgment.pdf; Lee, Albert. “'Bolam' to 'Montgomery' is result of evolutionary change of medical practice towards 'patient-centred care'.” Postgraduate medical journal vol. 93,1095 (2017): 46-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5256237/#R3 The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, First Do No Harm, 8 July 2020. https://www.immdsreview.org.uk/downloads/IMMDSReview_Web.pdf Ibid. Ibid. Campaign Against Painful Hysteroscopy, Patients Stories Essay, September 2018. https://www.hysteroscopyaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/sept-2018.pdf; The Right Reverend Graham Jones, Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Issues raised by Paterson, 2020. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/863211/issues -raised-by-paterson-independent-inquiry-report-web-accessible.pdf The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, First Do No Harm, 8 July 2020. https://www.immdsreview.org.uk/downloads/IMMDSReview_Web.pdf Ibid.
  2. 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.
  3. Content Article
    Dr Jake Suett: My experience of suspected 'Long COVID' I have been unwell for 109 days now, and the entire illness has been incredibly frightening, with episodes of severe shortness of breath, cardiac-type chest pains and palpitations to name a few. I think I am slowly improving but am left with residual symptoms that have never gone away entirely but regularly return strongly in waves. In March, I was working as a staff grade intensive care doctor. I was working closely with patients with COVID-19 and had an illness that began with fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. I had braced myself for the coming wave of COVID-19 and was helping my hospital to prepare. I had studied the mortality data from a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine1 and had concluded that, as a young, healthy and active 31-year old doctor I would likely survive (very likely) or die (really quite unlikely) if I became exposed to the virus. I had not anticipated the existence of this strange third possibility of still feeling extremely ill nearly 16 weeks later. I realised that I was not alone with my symptoms when I read Professor Paul Garner’s blog in the BMJ2 about six weeks into my illness. I joined some of the support groups on Facebook including 'Long Covid Support Group' and was suddenly faced with the realisation that there were thousands of us in the same position. It was a bittersweet moment as it helped me to feel less alone, but on the other hand confronted me with a tremendous volume of genuine human suffering that was going unrecorded and unnoticed due to the circumstances of the crisis. People are experiencing incredibly frightening symptoms but some have found it hard to access healthcare as the NHS was being protected from being overwhelmed. Most have remained at home and have not been admitted to hospital. Many were unable to access testing in the first month of their illness, and most were never admitted to hospital. I wrote a letter (attached at the bottom of this blog) that other people could send to their MPs in an attempt to raise awareness of the situation of people suffering persistent symptoms. Here are my current thoughts on the issue of 'Long COVID' and what the next practical steps should be in addressing the problem for sufferers and society in general. 'Long COVID' In some people, there are prolonged symptoms of COVID-19, which have been called 'Long COVID' or 'Post-acute COVID-19'. There is a growing body of evidence that a significant minority of patients are suffering persisting and distressing symptoms that in ordinary times would represent 'red-flag' symptoms requiring urgent investigation. Data from the COVID-19 symptom tracker app shows that 1 in 10 patients are having symptoms for longer than three weeks3. The British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK’s post-COVID survey4 of over 1000 patients, of which over 800 had not been admitted to hospital, found that: “…many people who had mild – moderate COVID are now on a long road to recovery, affecting both their physical and mental health” and “When asked what symptoms most affect them, the top five were: breathing problems (90%), extreme tiredness (64%), sleep problems (22%), cough (22%) and changes in mood, or anxiety or depression (22%). The majority of people had not experienced these symptoms before having COVID.” The symptoms experienced by these patients are frightening and are consistent with other serious differential diagnoses that would usually warrant urgent investigation to rule out serious causes. These symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and various neurological symptoms (numbness, weakness, visual disturbances etc). Many people report emergence of new symptoms late in the course of their illness, a relapsing-remitting pattern to their symptoms, and many have reported a mild initial illness, all of which adds to the distress and uncertainty of the condition. Tim Spector writes, “There is a whole other side to the virus which has not had attention because of the idea that ‘if you are not dead you are fine”3. Some patients have reported requiring treatment for con-current bacterial pneumonia, urinary tract infections and pulmonary emboli. Some have reported other serious outcomes such as strokes and cholecystitis. Some that have had investigations have reported serious abnormalities on blood tests, echocardiograms and CTs. Most of these patients have not required hospital admission and many have not been able to access PCR testing at the early stage of their illness. At the moment, this data is not being collected in a scientific fashion, which is an impairment to building up an evidence base around the topic. This data urgently needs to be moved from anecdote into scientific studies and then applied clinically to help people. Some high-profile figures have spoken out about their experiences with a prolonged illness including two Professors of Infectious Diseases and an MP5,6,7. There are many examples of people remaining unwell for three months and longer8 (see letter for more). Articles in the BMJ address the issue from the perspective of a GP9, and from the perspective of occupational health10. We already have emerging evidence of longer-term complications affecting the respiratory11, cardiovascular12, endocrine13, neurological14,15 and gastrointestinal16 systems in at least some patients after COVID-19 and a new Kawasaki disease type illness has been identified in children following infection17. There are also plenty of historical warnings about long-term effects from the SARS outbreak in 200318,19 as well as well documented complications of other viral illnesses. On the basis of this, it is important for us to keep an open mind about what the underlying pathophysiology is in 'Long COVID' patients and encourage further epidemiological, mechanistic and treatment studies by those with expertise in the field. It would be dangerous to assume that pathology that has been detected in hospital patients with COVID-19 can not also affect those who may have managed to avoid admission. Dealing with this issue will require research and collaboration between multiple different medical specialties. Perhaps collaboration and joint guidelines should be considered early on as well as urgently starting studies that capture this cohort. (The PHOSP-COVID study unfortunately only captures follow up in patients after hospitalisation, although of course is a welcome step in the right direction.) The issue has started to be talked about more widely this week. Andrew Gwynne MP asked the Leader of the House of Commons for a debate or statement on 'Long COVID' during business questions on 2 July 2020 and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon discussed the issue at Wednesday 1 July’s daily briefing saying, “One of the things it took us longer to learn, and we are still learning, is that even for people who don’t become very seriously unwell and don’t die from it, it can still do really long-term damage.”20 On Sunday 5 July, it was announced that NHS England would be launching a tool to aid long-term recovery21 and a statement from NHS England said, “…evidence shows that many of those survivors are likely to have significant on-going health problems, including breathing difficulties, enduring tiredness, reduced muscle function, impaired ability to perform vital everyday tasks and mental health problems such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.”22 This is a welcome step and provides recognition to those who have been left struggling with persisting symptoms. However, it is important that these services do not exclude those who did not require hospital admission nor those whose clinical features suggest COVID-19 but who may have had trouble accessing testing or have suspected false negative results for a variety of reasons23,24,25,26. Clinicians need to be able to access these services for their patients if they feel they would benefit from them. What is the danger? Of course, the pandemic is a crisis and resources have been stretched to the limits. There is no cure for COVID-19 and there is still little evidence to suggest what the pathophysiology of the prolonged symptoms are. It’s been a challenging time for politicians, healthcare professionals and patients alike. However, there are risks with the current situation for those with 'Long COVID' that can be solved now as we move away from the peak of the first wave of the pandemic. The risks are: That serious but treatable complications of COVID-19 may not be detected and managed, such as thromboses, secondary infections, or cardiovascular, endocrine or neurological sequelae etc. That serious but treatable pathology may go undetected if misattributed to COVID-19 and not investigated. There is a third danger from a public health perspective, which is to mistakenly consider outcomes in terms of death vs survival, and to not consider the possibility of long-term morbidity and delayed mortality in survivors of COVID-19, and therefore miscalculate the risk vs benefit calculations of easing lock-down and other public health measures. There is the danger that we miss this opportunity to have robust epidemiological studies to capture the entire spectrum of COVID-19 disease, and therefore any potential morbidity and mortality associated with “Long-COVID” symptoms will go undetected, along with any clues that may be gained regarding the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and treatment options. What needs to be done? I believe that dealing with the problem of 'Long-COVID' will require a response from government, public health bodies, healthcare systems, scientists and society. Collectively, we will need to: Establish a scientific approach to the study of patients undergoing prolonged COVID-19 symptoms (ensuring the cohort that was not hospitalised and has persisting symptoms is also captured in this data). This needs to include epidemiological, mechanistic and treatment studies. (The Long-term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus (LIINC) study27 being carried out at University of California San Francisco is a good example of the type of study required for capturing objective data on the full spectrum of COVID-19 disease, including in those individuals with a prolonged illness. Maintain an open-minded approach to the underlying pathophysiology of the condition28,29, and avoid classifying it with existing names for diseases until there is sufficient evidence to make these statements. Include Long COVID patients in the study design stages. Raise awareness amongst health professionals and make arrangements so that treatable pathology is investigated and ruled out. Provide information and guidelines on how to manage long-term COVID19. Raise awareness amongst employers. Consider the medical, psychological and financial support that may be required by these patients. When considering measures to ease the lock-down, include a consideration of the risk of exposing additional people to prolonged COVID-19 symptoms and long-term health consequences. Ensure and clarify that the plans announced on 5 July 2020 for research and rehabilitation by NHS England do not inappropriately exclude those who have not required hospital admission and do not exclude those who have been unable to access testing early on, or in whom a false negative test is suspected. It is important that similar services are available throughout the UK. I have encouraged people with these persisting symptoms to write to their MPs to make clear the needs of this group. I have included a letter to explain the situation here in case they would find it helpful. Conclusion The Socratic paradox, "I know that I know nothing" must remind us to keep an open mind at this stage when dealing with a new disease. In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus wrote, “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.” We have already been taken by surprise by this virus in many ways. It’s important that creating a huge pool of long-term suffering, of unclear aetiology and with unclear outcome, in up to 5-10% of the population does not become an additional surprise. Even if these patients are uncommon, given the number of SARS-CoV2 infections the country has now seen we must arm ourselves with robust studies and evidence to inform healthcare practices and government policy moving forwards. Unless we address this issue we will be left with a huge healthcare burden of chronic disease, and miss the opportunity to save lives and better understand this disease. Clinicians will face patients with these symptoms and have no access to evidence to help manage them. This will lead to bad health outcomes for both individual patients as well as causing significant impacts on society and public health in general. Additional reading: Patient safety concerns for Long COVID patients (6 July 2020) Press release: Patient Safety Learning calls for urgent action to ensure Long COVID patients are heard and supported (6 July 2020) Dismissed, unsupported and misdiagnosed: Interview with a COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’ References Wei-jie Guan, Ph.D., Zheng-yi Ni, M.D., Yu Hu, M.D., Wen-hua Liang, Ph.D., Chun-quan Ou, Ph.D., Jian-xing He, M.D., Lei Liu, M.D., Hong Shan, M.D., Chun-liang Lei, M.D., David S.C. Hui, M.D., Bin Du, M.D., Lan-juan Li, M.D., et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:1708-1720. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2002032 https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/05/05/paul-garner-people-who-have-a-more-protracted-illness-need-help-to-understand-and-cope-with-the-constantly-shifting-bizarre-symptoms/ https://covid19.joinzoe.com/post/covid-long-term https://www.blf.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/%E2%80%9Cwe-have-been-totally-abandoned%E2%80%9D-people-left-struggling-for-weeks-as https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/06/23/paul-garner-covid-19-at-14-weeks-phantom-speed-cameras-unknown-limits-and-harsh-penalties/ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/28/coronavirus-long-haulers-infectious-disease-testing https://andrewgwynne.co.uk/long-termer-my-struggle-with-post-covid-sickness-my-weekly-article-for-the-tameside-reporter/ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53169736 Helen Salisbury: When will we be well again? BMJ 2020;369:m2490 https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2490 https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/06/23/covid-19-prolonged-and-relapsing-course-of-illness-has-implications-for-returning-workers/ Xiaoneng Mo, Wenhua Jian, Zhuquan Su, Mu Chen, Hui Peng, Ping Peng, Chunliang Lei, Shiyue Li, Ruchong Chen, Nanshan Zhong. Abnormal pulmonary function in COVID-19 patients at time of hospital discharge. European Respiratory Journal Jan 2020. https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/early/2020/05/07/13993003.01217-2020 Tomasz J Guzik, Saidi A Mohiddin, Anthony Dimarco, Vimal Patel, Kostas Savvatis, Federica M Marelli-Berg, Meena S Madhur, Maciej Tomaszewski, Pasquale Maffia, Fulvio D’Acquisto, Stuart A Nicklin, Ali J Marian, Ryszard Nosalski, Eleanor C Murray, Bartlomiej Guzik, Colin Berry, Rhian M Touyz, Reinhold Kreutz, Dao Wen Wang, David Bhella, Orlando Sagliocco, Filippo Crea, Emma C Thomson, Iain B McInnes. COVID-19 and the cardiovascular system: implications for risk assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options, Cardiovascular Research, cvaa106, https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvaa106https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/doi/10.1093/cvr/cvaa106/5826160 Agarwal S, Agarwal SK. Endocrine changes in SARS-CoV-2 patients and lessons from SARS-CoV. Postgraduate Medical Journal 2020;96:412-416. https://pmj.bmj.com/content/96/1137/412 Antonino Giordano, Ghil Schwarz, Laura Cacciaguerra, Federica Esposito, Massimo Filippi. COVID-19: can we learn from encephalitis lethargica? The Lancet Neurology, 2020;19(7):570 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(20)30189-7/fulltext#articleInformation Mark A Ellul, Laura Benjamin, Bhagteshwar Singh, Suzannah Lant, Benedict Daniel Michael, Ava Easton, Rachel Kneen, Sylviane Defres, Jim Sejvar, Tom Solomon. Neurological associations of COVID-19, Lancet Neurol 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30221-0 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(20)30221-0/fulltext Lijing Yang, Lei Tu. Implications of gastrointestinal manifestations of COVID-19. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; May 12, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30132-1https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langas/PIIS2468-1253(20)30132-1.pdf Galeotti, C., Bayry, J. Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases following COVID-19. Nat Rev Rheumatol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41584-020-0448-7https://www.nature.com/articles/s41584-020-0448-7 Ngai, J.C., Ko, F.W., Ng, S.S., To, K.‐W., Tong, M. and Hui, D.S. The long‐term impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome on pulmonary function, exercise capacity and health status. Respirology, 2010, 15: 543-550. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1440-1843.2010.01720.x Ong, Kian-Chung et al. 1-Year Pulmonary Function and Health Status in Survivors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. CHEST, 2005, Volume 128, Issue 3, 1393 - 1400 https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(15)52164-8/fulltext https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/politics/scottish-politics/1414976/100-days-ill-health-secretary-pledges-support-for-long-haul-covid-19-patients-who-never-got-better/ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53291925 https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/07/nhs-to-launch-ground-breaking-online-covid-19-rehab-service/ Watson Jessica, Whiting Penny F, Brush John E. Interpreting a covid-19 test result. BMJ 2020; 369: m1808https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1808 Fan Wu, Aojie Wang, Mei Liu, Qimin Wang, Jun Chen, Shuai Xia, Yun Ling, Yuling Zhang, Jingna Xun, Lu Lu, Shibo Jiang, Hongzhou Lu, Yumei Wen, Jinghe Huang. Neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a COVID-19 recovered patient cohort and their implications. medRxiv 2020.03.30.20047365; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.30.20047365 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.30.20047365v2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890566/Evaluation_of_Abbott_SARS_CoV_2_IgG_PHE.pdf https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/891598/Evaluation_of_Roche_Elecsys_anti_SARS_CoV_2_PHE_200610_v8.1_FINAL.pdf https://www.liincstudy.org/en/study-information Dominique Batisse MD Assistance, Nicolas Benech MD, Elisabeth Botelho-Nevers MD, Kevin Bouiller MD, Rocco Collarino MD, Anne Conrad MD, Laure Gallay MD, Francois Goehringer MD, Marie Gousseff MD, Dr Cedric Joseph MD, Adrien Lemaignen MD, PhD, Franc¸ois-Xavier Lescure MD, Bruno Levy MD, PhD, Matthieu Mahevas MD, PhD, Pauline Penot MD, Bruno Pozzetto MD, PhD, Dominique Salmon MD, PhD, Dorsaf SLAMA , Nicolas Vignier MD, PhD, Benjamin Wyplosz. Clinical recurrences of COVID-19 symptoms after recovery: viral relapse, reinfection or inflammatory rebound? Journal of Infection (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2020.06.073 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163445320304540?fbclid=IwAR0WEEf9dNtmXmFuU-m67g-Fs5SLdckb1f-FnNzSnX1tT4dw3uGWmsfnS60 Ding, H., Yin, S., Cheng, Y., Cai, Y., Huang, W. and Deng, W. Neurologic manifestations of nonhospitalized patients with COVID‐19 in Wuhan, China. MedComm, 2020. doi:10.1002/mco2.13 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mco2.13?fbclid=IwAR1yQ8DkVOCsIdonjuzl8tx7LlBp0_Lt6KgVUW79SrFwo-_9nyZmWiz7rsQ
  4. News Article
    Many lives have been ruined because officials failed to hear the concerns of women given drugs and procedures that caused them or their babies considerable harm, says a review. More than 700 women and their families shared "harrowing" details about vaginal mesh, Primodos and an epilepsy drug called sodium valproate. Too often worries and complaints were dismissed as "women's problems". It says arrogant attitudes left women traumatised, intimidated and confused. June Wray, 73 and from Newcastle, experienced chronic pain after having a vaginal mesh procedure in 2009. "Sometimes the pain is so severe, I feel like I will pass out. But when I told GPs and surgeons, they didn't believe me. They just looked at me like I was mad." The chairwoman of the highly critical review, Baroness Julia Cumberlege, said the families affected deserved a fulsome apology from the government. She said: "I have conducted many reviews and inquiries over the years, but I have never encountered anything like this; the intensity of suffering experienced by so many families, and the fact that they have endured it for decades. Much of this suffering was entirely avoidable, caused and compounded by failings in the health system itself." Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 July 2020
  5. Content Article
    We need to listen to patients and commission research COVID-19 is a new virus and there is currently little understanding about long-term impacts[5] and why some people seem to recover quickly while others are left very unwell for months.[6] Prolonged symptoms vary greatly[7] but many are experiencing rashes, shortness of breath, neurological and gastrointestinal problems, abnormal temperatures, cardiac symptoms and extreme fatigue. Recent studies indicate COVID-19 can cause organ damage even where patients have been asymptomatic.[8] Research into the Long COVID cohort of patients is needed as a high priority. Without this, we won’t be able to assess the impact on patients, identify the causes and develop treatments with appropriate advice and support. This knowledge gap deserves immediate attention so that we can better understand how and why the virus has presented itself differently in these patients, many of whom are young and were previously fit and healthy.[9] Thousands of patients are reporting their experiences through social and mainstream media. Patients need to be assured that they are being listened to and that their insights and symptoms are being captured to better understand this disease. Without engaging with patients who are living through this, it will be impossible to gain the full picture and know how best to provide care and keep them safe. Call for action: There needs to be a scientific and global approach to the study of patients undergoing prolonged COVID-19 symptoms to understand the numbers affected, the causes, how long they remain contagious and to investigate possible treatments. Patients must be encouraged to speak up via their GPs, researchers and social media, and they must be listened to. Where patients are dissatisfied with the services and the support they are receiving, they should be encouraged to share this insight through online reporting and, if needed, the NHS complaints process. The Department of Health and Social Care should establish a Long COVID patient advisory group to inform the design of new services, support, research and patient communication. Urgent need for COVID-19 recovery guidance and support For ensuring an effective recovery from serious illnesses such as COVID-19, the importance of rehabilitation to long-term mental and physical health is widely recognised.[10] However, access to quality rehabilitation varies across the UK[11] and, during the pandemic, post COVID-19 support and rehabilitation have focused on the acutely unwell who have spent time in hospital.[12] Patient Safety Learning has heard testimonials from people with COVID-19 who are struggling to recover and have been unable to access support.[13] Although there has been an increase in guidance available for people recovering from COVID-19[14], these have in the main been designed for patients who have been acutely unwell and in hospital. If patients who are managing their illness and recovery from home don’t also receive the care and support they need, they face an increased risk that their physical and mental health outcomes could be adversely affected, limiting their future quality of life.[15] On 5 July 2020 it was announced that NHS England is launching a new service for people with on-going health problems after having COVID-19. "Your Covid Recovery" is an online portal for people in England to access tutorials, contact healthcare workers and track their progress. It is launching later this month and, ‘later in the summer’, tailored rehabilitation will also be offered to those who qualify, following an assessment (up to a maximum of 12 weeks).[16] Call for action: The development of national guidance co-produced with people who have lived experience of Long COVID, and the immediate and consistent application of this guidance. Quality rehabilitation support for Long COVID patients, whether they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Services to be provided for as long as people need them, wherever they live in the UK. The psychological impact of Long COVID on patients, with or without a formal diagnosis People who are experiencing prolonged symptoms of COVID-19 are telling us of the negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.[17] We are hearing of huge variations in the care and advice these patients are being offered when accessing GP services. Many feel that they have been dismissed under catch-all diagnoses or made to question what they are feeling in their own bodies.[18] Frustrations around lack of clinical recognition for their illness is often exacerbated by receiving a negative test result. There is emerging evidence of the problematic nature of COVID-19 and antibody testing to accurately determine whether someone has or hasn’t been infected with COVID-19.[19] ‘False negatives’ can occur for a number of reasons including the challenging process of sample collection[20], the patient’s stage of illness and the failure rates of the tests themselves. Relapses seem common and many people are understandably worried that they may never return to their state of health pre-COVID. It may be that some of these patients are at the beginning of chronic illness, requiring appropriate physical and psychological support.[21] Are these patients’ experiences being believed by the healthcare system? If not, and this results in lack of access to support, then those experiencing long-term symptoms from COVID-19 are potentially at higher risk of developing mental health issues such as depression.[22] Call for action: Patients recovering from suspected Long COVID should be given the same support, regardless of whether they have had COVID-19 confirmed by a test result or not. Appropriate psychological support needs to be available to help patients come to terms with the impact of long-term illness. We need to learn whether unconscious bias about chronic illness is affecting professionals’ decision-making and patients’ access to services. If so, guidance, advice, training and support should be provided. Are serious conditions being overlooked? There is a risk that patients who are suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19 may not have ‘red-flag’ symptoms (indicative of serious conditions) investigated in the way they would have done pre-pandemic[23], their symptoms instead being attributed to COVID-19. Many members of COVID-19 support groups report having to fight for referrals to rule out other pathologies. This is particularly worrying for people who have a history of cancer or other hereditary illnesses in their family. Their concern is that potential delays to diagnosis and treatment could have an adverse effect on a patient’s health outcomes.[24] Call for action: ‘Red flag’ symptoms that may be indicative of other conditions should be appropriately investigated in Long COVID patients. A second pair of ears Patients with prolonged symptoms are often experiencing what they describe as ‘brain-fog’[25], difficulties with memory or finding the right words, for example. Patient Safety Learning is hearing from those who have expressed a need to have another person attend their appointments to help communicate and to help them process everything in relation to their care. Due to concerns around infection control during the pandemic, such support isn’t always allowed, so there is a risk that patients could be left confused and overwhelmed, unable to engage actively in their care. This could significantly compromise their ability to keep themselves safe.[26] If this is recognised as an issue for those with prolonged COVID-19 symptoms, steps could be taken to ensure they are able to access support in the same way as those with other conditions that result in cognitive impairment. Call for action: Reasonable adjustments should be considered to allow a companion to accompany patients with debilitating symptoms (including ‘brain-fog’) to appointments, or to speak with a clinician over the phone. Health inequalities We now know from recent research that people from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds and people who live in deprived areas have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.[27] There is a significant amount of research looking at the difficulties people from ethnic minority backgrounds and deprived areas face with regard to accessing health services. The concern is that inequalities have the potential to widen if people with Long COVID are not appropriately supported. Call for action: Long COVID patients should be included in research and action being taken to address health inequalities and COVID-19. Rehabilitation outcomes should be monitored and reported so that learning can be captured and so that any emerging inequalities in access to services are identified and addressed quickly. Next steps Patient Safety Learning is calling for the safety of Long COVID patients to be considered as a matter of urgency. Our Chief Executive Helen Hughes comments: "It is understandable that the initial focus of care during the COVID-19 pandemic has been on acutely unwell and hospitalised patients. However, there is growing evidence that there are many patients recovering in the community with long-lasting symptoms who are feeling abandoned, confused and without support. We must take action to better understand the needs of these patients and provide them with safe and effective care for as long as they need." Patient Safety Learning is also supporting the broader calls for action by Dr Jake Suett, set out in his blog post on the hub. These call on Government, public health bodies, healthcare systems, sciences and society to take the following actions: Establish a scientific approach to the study of patients undergoing prolonged COVID-19 symptoms (ensuring the cohort that was not hospitalised and has persisting symptoms is also captured in this data). This needs to include epidemiological, mechanistic and treatment studies. The Long-term Impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus (LIINC) study[28] being carried out at University of California San Francisco is a good example of the type of study required for capturing objective data on the full spectrum of COVID-19 disease, including in those individuals with a prolonged illness. Maintain an open-minded approach to the underlying pathophysiology of the condition and avoid labelling it with existing names until there is sufficient evidence to make these statements. Include Long COVID patients in the study design stages. Raise awareness amongst health professionals and make arrangements so that treatable pathology is investigated and ruled out. Provide information and guidelines on how to manage long-term COVID19. Raise awareness amongst employers. Consider the medical, psychological and financial support that may be required by these patients. When considering measures to ease the lock down, include a consideration of the risk of exposing additional people to prolonged COVID-19 symptoms and long-term health consequences. Ensure and clarify that the plans announced on 5 July 2020 for research and rehabilitation by NHS England do not inappropriately exclude those who have not required hospital admission, and do not exclude those who have been unable to access testing early on, or in whom a false negative test is suspected. It is important that similar services are available throughout the UK. We will continue to use the hub to highlight patients’ experiences and concerns about this issue. We will also be working with others to seek support for these actions and raise awareness of the patient safety implications of Long COVID with policymakers in Government and the health and social care system. References [1] Forbes, Report Suggests Some ‘Mildly Symptomatic’ COVID-19 Patients Endure Serious Long-Term Effects, 13 June 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuacohen/2020/06/13/report-suggests-some-mildly-symptomatic-COVID-19-patients-endure-serious-long-term-effects/#216f1aa35979; COVID Symptom Study, How long does COVID last?, 8 June 2020. https://COVID.joinzoe.com/post/COVID-long-term; Huffington Post, ‘Long COVID’ – The Under-The-Radar Coronavirus Cases Exhausting Thousands, 2 June 2020. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/what-is-long-COVID-and-how-many-people-are-suffering_uk_5efb3487c5b612083c52d91d?guccounter=1; The Independent, ‘The fatigue has lasted for months and months’: Meet the ‘long haulers’ living with the long-term impact of COVID-19, 12 June 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-long-tail-patients-symptoms-lockdown-a9563681.html [2] Facebook, Long COVID Support Group, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.facebook.com/groups/longCOVID; Facebook, Positive Path Of Wellness – (COVID UK Long Haulers), Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1190419557970588; Coronavirus – Survivors Group – COVID-19, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CVsurvivors [3] Asthma UK, “We have been totally abandoned” people left struggling for weeks as they recover from COVID at home, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/news/post-COVID-abandoned/ [4] Dr Jake Suett, My experience of suspected 'Long COVID', Patient Safety Learning's the hub, 6 July 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-covid19/273_blogs/my-experience-of-suspected-long-covid-r2547/ [5] The Guardian, The coronavirus ‘long-haulers’ show how little we still know, 28 June 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/28/coronavirus-long-haulers-infectious-disease-testing; BBC News, Coronavirus: Calls for awareness of long-term effects, 19 June 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-53084368 [6] BBC News, Coronavirus doctor’s diary: Why does COVID-19 make some health young people really sick?, 31 May 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52853647 [7] The Independent, Coronavirus: Lesser-known symptoms that could be linked to COVID-19, 1 June 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-symptoms-loss-smell-taste-delirium-COVID-toe-syndrome-a9520051.html [8] Quan-Xin Long et al, Clinical and immunological assessment of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections, Nature Medicine, 18 June 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0965-6.pdf [9] NewsLetter, A ‘fit and healthy’ 25 year old COVID-19 patient is urging young people to take coronavirus seriously, 31 March 2020. https://www.newsletter.co.uk/read-this/fit-and-healthy-25-year-old-COVID-19-patient-urging-young-people-take-coronavirus-seriously-2523383 [10] Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, The importance of community rehabilitation, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.csp.org.uk/professional-clinical/improvement-innovation/community-rehabilitation/importance-community [11] Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Rebab Matters, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.csp.org.uk/campaigns-influencing/campaigns/rehab-matters [12] NHS England, After-care needs of inpatients recovering from COVID-19, 5 June 2020. https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/06/C0388-after-care-needs-of-inpatients-recovering-from-COVID-19-5-june-2020-1.pdf [13] Barbara Melville, Dismissed, unsupported and misdiagnosed: Interview with a COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 24 June 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-COVID19/patient-recovery/resources-for-patients/dismissed-unsupported-and-misdiagnosed-interview-with-a-COVID-19-%E2%80%98long-hauler%E2%80%99-r2461/ [14] Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, Resources for patients, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-COVID19/patient-recovery/resources-for-patients/ [15] Health Awareness, Rehabilitation: making quality of life better for patients, 14 August 2019. https://www.healthawareness.co.uk/rehabilitation/rehabilitation-making-quality-of-life-better-for-patients/# [16] NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS to launch ground breaking online COVID-19 rehab service, 5 July 2020. https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/07/nhs-to-launch-ground-breaking-online-covid-19-rehab-service/ [17] CTV News, ‘Great medical mystery’ as COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ complain of months-long symptoms, Last Updated 19 June 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/great-medical-mystery-as-COVID-19-long-haulers-complain-of-months-long-symptoms-1.4981669; Anonymous, ‘False negative’ and the impact on my mental health, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 22 May 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-COVID19/273_blogs/false-negative-and-the-impact-on-my-mental-health-r2297/ [18] Barbara Melville, Dismissed, unsupported and misdiagnosed: Interview with a COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 24 June 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-COVID19/patient-recovery/resources-for-patients/dismissed-unsupported-and-misdiagnosed-interview-with-a-COVID-19-%E2%80%98long-hauler%E2%80%99-r2461/ [19] Financial Times, COVID-19 antibody test raise doubts over accuracy and utility, study finds, 26 June 2020. https://www.ft.com/content/dc4b97a9-d869-40bc-950a-60f9f383bed0; The Guardian, Doctors condemn secrecy over false negative COVID-19 tests, 25 May 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/25/doctors-condemn-secrecy-over-false-negative-COVID-19-tests [20] Patient Safety Learning, COVID-19 tests: The safety implications of false negatives, Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, 22 May 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-COVID19/273_blogs/COVID-19-tests-the-safety-implications-of-false-negatives-r2309/ [21] Psychology Today, Chronic Illness, Last Accessed 3 July 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/chronic-illness [22] National Institute of Mental Health, Chronic Illness & Mental Health, Last Accessed 2 July 2020. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health/index.shtml [23] Dr Jake Suett, My experience of suspected 'Long COVID', Patient Safety Learning's the hub, 6 July 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-covid19/273_blogs/my-experience-of-suspected-long-covid-r2547/ [24] The Guardian, Thousands of cancer patients could die early due to coronavirus delays, study finds, 20 May 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/20/thousands-of-cancer-patients-could-die-early-due-to-coronavirus-delays-study-finds [25] Daily Mail, How coronavirus can attack the brain: From exhaustion and depression to even DEMENTIA symptoms… the effects COVID-19 can have on one of our most vital organs, 16 June 2020. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-8424649/How-coronavirus-attack-brain.html [26] Sign up to Safety Patient Engagement in Patient Safety Group, Patient Engagement in Patient Safety: A Framework for the NHS, May 2016. https://www.england.nhs.uk/signuptosafety/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2016/05/pe-ps-framwrk-apr-16.pdf [27] Public Health England, Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19, June 2020. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/892085/disparities_review.pdf [28] Long-term impact of Infection with Novel Coronavirus, Study Information, Last Accessed 6 July 2020. https://www.liincstudy.org/en/study-information
  6. 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.
  7. Content Article
    Myths of pain: Myth 1: Pain meds compromise the abdominal exam. Myth 2: Treatment of pain will compromise a patient’s decision making capacity. Myth 3: Opiophobia: The fear of addiction Myth 4: She's not in pain! I just saw her sleeping! How can we improve? First: Stop saying that it’s not you. It is you! You suck at managing pain. Perhaps not in everyone, but you’re definitely mistreating someone. Once we accept this fact, we may become cognizant and then able to improve our practices. Second: Educate thyself. Tintinalli’s actually has a whole chapter on acute pain management. Studies show that short training sessions led providers to give more analgesia with improvement in patient satisfaction (5). Third: Simply ask. Ask your patients if they have pain and ask them if they want pain medication. Fourth: Don’t get caught up by stupid myths. Your patient is in pain, treat him! Last: Do not give in to the Great Opiophobia! We are emergency physicians and we aren’t afraid of anything!
  8. 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.
  9. Content Article
    This annual report, by the All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis Group, recognises that the 2018 survey of Trusts and CCGs shows, like the year before, many areas of best practice and provision of written and verbal patient information are well established across the country. However, there is evidence of decline in a number of areas, even within those areas that have met their targets. While the NHS is facing a number of pressures across the organisation, including financial constraint and capacity issues, it is crucially important that VTE prevention and management remains a focus, particularly given the increasing rate of admissions and the rising elderly population. VTE risk assessment is an excellent way of helping to improve patient safety, while also lowering overall cost.
  10. 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.
  11. Community Post
    I’ve just been listening to the 10 o’clock news tonight and it has been covering the report into Paterson, the breast surgeon who may have needlessly operated on thousands on women. One of the recommendations is that patient safety should be a ‘top priority’ across the NHS (again!!). Another interesting recommendation is that the NHS (and private healthcare providers) need to be better at sharing information about medical staff. Currently, medical staff seem to be able to be investigated in one hospital, and then move to another without any of their history following them. Maybe we need some sort of central system, like Doctify for employers? What do you think?
  12. News Article
    One in six women who lose a baby in early pregnancy experiences long-term symptoms of post-traumatic stress, a UK study suggests. Women need more sensitive and specific care after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, researchers say. In the study of 650 women, by Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium, 29% showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress one month after pregnancy loss, declining to 18% after nine months. The study recommends that women who have miscarried are screened to find out who is most at risk of psychological problems. "For too long, women have not received the care they need following a miscarriage and this research shows the scale of the problem," says Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of miscarriage and stillbirth charity Tommy's. "Miscarriage services need to be changed to ensure they are available to everyone and women are followed up to assess their mental wellbeing with support being offered to those who need it, and advice is routinely given to prepare for a subsequent pregnancy." Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 January 2020
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