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Found 49 results
  1. Content Article
    Why use this tool? To allow a team to explore the possible reasons, root causes and possible solutions for a problem To visually represent the reasons, root causes and possible solutions for a problem To help identify change ideas and develop an improvement plan To enable team to focus on content of the problem, not on the history or differing personal interests.
  2. Content Article
    Why use this tool? To capture and visually represent all the steps in an existing process. To show everyone in a team how a process works in practice now, rather than what they think is happening, To help identify change ideas for improvement. To visually represent a new process. To assist team building as it should involve all team members in accurately capturing current process and the design of any new process.
  3. Content Article
    What is an ad hoc team? An ‘ad hoc’ team is a team that is made up of various healthcare workers that have never met before. An example of this is the medical emergency team or the cardiac arrest team – doctors, anaesthetists, nurses and other allied health professionals scrambled from around the hospital expected to assess and treat a patient in crisis. Often, we don’t know each other’s names, roles or what skills we each have. What we did in Brighton is to get to know each other… We had a MET meeting every morning. We all got together and introduced ourselves, found out what skills we all had and made full use of any learning opportunities that arose. The ad hoc team worked well. We all knew what to expect, even when a complex situation arose – we all knew who to contact and how we could get the best for our patient. Then in comes a pandemic... Staff have been redeployed; rotas have been changed; the usual rhythm of the hospital has disappeared. Our regular meeting doesn’t happen. This causes problems: Who is who? What skills do people have? Has everyone been fit tested? Where do we get the PPE from during a MET call? How do we communicate to each other? What is the guidance to take blood, do an ECG, defibrillate, order an X-ray during the pandemic? All these questions and anxieties could be discussed at this meeting, but due to a change in working patterns, the change in doctors seeing different patients (Green and Red – COVID + or COVID –), its not possible to meet up. Our technical skills are not a problem – the team have great skills in advanced life support, using life saving equipment. What we are finding difficult is the non-technical skills: communicating, tone of voice, body language. It was hard enough to communicate in a high stress situation before all this pandemic… now its even harder and so much more important! Simulation Simulation has been a large part of how we train in low volume, high risk scenarios in hospital. Cardiac arrests, medical emergencies, emergency intubation, transfer, pacing… you name it we have probably simulated it here at Brighton. I have been on the medical emergency team for 9 years now. I like to think I have experience in most emergencies and know what to do and who to call. All of a sudden, I feel a novice. I don’t even know how to go into the room correctly, I don’t know what I should take in to the room, I don’t know what I should wear; every action, every protocol I would normally do can't happen due to current constraints. I am worrying so much that I feel paralysed to do anything for fear I’m doing it wrong. We have simulations every day at 3 pm at our hospital. These simulations are very low fidelity and include how a medical emergency or cardiac arrest in the COVID-19 patient should run. Simulation can never replace what a real-life scenario will feel like. What simulation can do is allow you to understand what needs to happen, in what order and lets you make mistakes in order for you to learn. Most adults learn from ‘doing’ and from experiences – I am so glad we had this simulation as I was about to attend my first MET call a few days later. My experience attending an airway medical emergency The call went out. "Medical emergency XXX ward – COVID positive". Shortly followed by "Anaesthetic emergency XXX ward- COVID positive". I ran faster knowing that as a team we all had to get there and put full PPE on before we could attend to the patient. If the patient has an airway problem, they will not be able to breathe properly and be at high risk of stopping breathing. I remembered at the simulation exercise that one person needs to be the ‘gate keeper’. I decided to take on this role as I wasn’t sure who had attended the simulation before and knew about this role. My role as gate keeper is to make a note of who is in the room, what role they have and to take messages in and out of the room from the doorway. The notes are not able to be taken into the room, so it would be the gate keeper's role to get the information across to the team inside. I was opening and closing the door and trying to hear muffled voices; I was equally trying to convey important medical information, but they couldn’t hear me well enough. It didn’t help that for many of the team English is not their first language; this made it even more difficult. Our anaesthetic team simulate situations on a regular basis as part of normal work. They turned up at the call already kitted up in PPE and wheeling a trolley with everything they needed on it; all their drugs and equipment were there. One of them – the lead anaesthetist – had a headset on which was connected to a walkie talkie. This made conversing with the team so much easier. We could ask questions from outside the room into the room and vice versa without having to open the door. Clearly, they had rehearsed this scenario before – they too couldn’t hear well so had solved the problem by obtaining walkie talkie devices. They asked for equipment, called for X-ray or asked for more information and I could either relay information, pass equipment or order tests for them – so much easier and safer. The patient had a complex airway and needed to be seen by a specialist. A consultant arrived; one I had not met before. He arrived anxious. He was worried about donning the PPE in the correct order and in swift time. I helped him donn and, while I did that, I reassured him on who was in the room, what had happened and what treatment the patient had had. He entered the room knowing he had the right gear on and what he was facing. This enabled him to think clearly and treat the patient. When it was time to transfer the patient to intensive care, we came across a problem. We had two differing protocols. One was from yesterday, the other was rewritten this morning… which was correct? This was quickly cleared up by calling the author of the protocol, but what would happen at 3 am if this was to happen again? Reflections It was my first time as gate keeper. To be honest, I didn’t know what I should be doing… some of the information from the simulation flew from my mind. Looking back, I should have asked for the name and role of who walked into the room and wrote it on their PPE or used stickers. People were in such a rush to get in and save the patient's life that it didn’t feel like a priority at the time. The walkie talkies were a genius idea from the anaesthetists – this is something that I will take back and see if we can implement the same for all MET calls (anaesthetists do not attend MET calls normally). It reduced the opening and closing of the door, which reduced the amount of aerosoled particles to come out from the room that may increase risk of infection to others. Flattened hierarchy – the moment I had with the consultant outside that room was something I hadn’t experienced before. I noticed his vulnerability, he looked for me – a nurse – for reassurance and guidance which was given with no judgement. At that moment we knew we were one team. Protocols keep changing. We are working where national guidance and local policy changes daily. Without robust ways of disseminating this information we run the risk of doing the wrong thing. As clinicians we are not at our desks monitoring for changes in guidance – we need ways of getting this information to us. We use the ‘workplace’ app – we have a ‘microguide’ for all our up to date policies. This is great to use in normal circumstances but when dressed in PPE we are not always able to access our mobile phones. I wasn’t inside the room. I could see the patient. I could see that he was scared. He couldn’t breathe, he was unable to talk anyway due to his altered airway. How were the team communicating with him? How was he being reassured? Our facial expressions say a thousand words – behind a mask the patient sees nothing. I have heard of the CARDMEDIC flash cards, but can we use them in an emergency? Perhaps we could add them on to the cardiac arrest trolley? The patient is doing well on intensive care now. It would have been ideal for us to debrief; however, half the team go with the patient the other half of the team need to get back to other sick patients, so this can't happen. So much learning comes from these calls; we haven’t got this bit right yet.
  4. Content Article
    So, you have a network in place, a few allies and that’s working well. Your curiosity means that you are asking great questions. Then you hit a brick wall Push a few boundaries and you may find yourself in the middle of a disagreement, whether that’s you as a leader sharing power with your team or as the one brave soul who says "you don’t have the full picture". Whilst it may seem that people ‘in authority’ must find this easy to handle, otherwise they wouldn’t be in charge, at the end of the day this can be scary stuff wherever you sit within your team and the wider system. You could turn back at this stage, but I hope that you don’t. Top tips for dealing with conflict Here’s a few more tips from me, all drawn from my experience of working with individuals and teams wanting to make the right difference for their patients: Pause and take a long hard listen to what’s being said. Stephen Covey says that most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply (1). Take a moment to reflect on how you listen. Empathic listening is not listening until you understand, it’s listening until the other person feels understood. Combine this with patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a big shift in the way things happen may take time. Use this opportunity to grow your network of people who share your passion for making a real difference. Last time I talked about power; from our formal positions, expert power derived from our knowledge and experience, and personal power. There’s also a wonderful power expressed through appreciation (2). Nancy Kline recommends a 5 to 1 ratio of praise to criticism. Researchers studied how appreciation effects blood flow to the brain. Less flows when we are thinking critical thoughts. Appreciation is necessary for optimal brain function. It moves to the heart to stimulate the brain to work better. Infectious, it goes a long way especially when someone may be quietly wondering whether something was the right thing (3). And, unusually, emails and texts can be the unsung heroes of appreciation. Being appreciated for what you did that day, that week makes a real difference. So far so good but what if you really cannot agree with the direction of travel? Well you can disagree respectfully and politely. There is a time and place for agreement and disagreement (4). And finally seek some feedback. One of the real benefits of building a network of support is that it can help you hone your practice and build your confidence. It can be difficult to fully engage, give your best and then know how you landed. Was I clear in that meeting? Could people understand what I was trying to say? Was I too forceful? But you can identify a trusted colleague and ask if they will give you some feedback. I often suggest people set this up ahead of time, you receive richer feedback as a result. The Healthcare Leadership Model is also a brilliant tool (5). It’s not just for people with leader in their title. It’s made up of nine leadership dimensions that you can explore at your own pace and then, if the time is right for you, seek feedback from others using the online tool. In return you receive a comprehensive 360 report along with a session with a trained facilitator to help you get the best out of your report. Thanks for reading this – let me know your experiences. Next time I am going to be talking about our responses to change and why it really is a bit Marmite – some of us are wired for change, others less so. But it’s a little more predictable than you might think… References 1 Stephen R. Covey. The seven habits of highly effective people. Franklin Covey, 1990. 2 Video: French and Raven's Bases of Power. YouTube. 2017. 3 Nancy Kline. Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind. Ward Lock, 1999. 4 Peter Khoury. How to Disagree Respectfully, magneticspeaking.com 5 Healthcare Leadership Model. NHS Leadership Academy.
  5. Content Article
    This web page is specific for manager and provides useful resources, advice and support.
  6. Content Article
    The authors of this paper, published by BMJ Quality & Safety, believe that although there are deep anxieties and many sources of resistance to change in health care, there are also individuals and organisations which are exhibiting creativity and leadership. To support these efforts, they offer concepts and practical examples drawn from several industries including healthcare. Three ideas underlie their argument: Healthcare organisations can improve quality and other outcomes by enhancing their capabilities for organisational learning. Organisational learning requires leadership from executives, line (middle) managers, and informal network leaders throughout organisations. Leaders are more effective when they take a broad view of the interdependencies among individuals, teams, task flows, systems, and cultural meanings.
  7. Content Article
    Often, there are many perspectives that we need to consider before we have a complete picture. 'The Blind Men and the Elephant', and earlier versions of this parable, show us the limits of perception and the importance of complete context. This also applies when we are facing a difficult or complex issue in relation to patient safety. As part of the Patient First programme at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, we used A3 problem solving. Many others do too. It’s a structured problem-solving tool, first employed at Toyota and typically used by 'lean' manufacturing practitioners. Flexible and succinct, it captures everything you need on a single piece of paper – A3 in size, hence the name. It also brings together some widely used improvement tools – cause and effect diagrams (fishbone diagrams) the 5 whys and small change cycles (Plan, Do ,Study, Act). Most recently, I've had the pleasure of using it with teams wanting to improve elements of their services such as time to triage, discharge or wanting to minimise avoidable harm (e.g. patient falls). I have also used it with families and clinical teams wanting to take forward a key service change. Its’ real power is that, rather than jumping in with solutions in hand (which are, more often than not, shopping lists of resources required), you don’t move forward until you have absolute clarity on what the ‘problem’ is you are trying to solve. Plus, this is a team activity. It is rare we know everything about our issue and the power of an A3 derives not from the report itself, but from the development of the culture and mindset required for its successful implementation. There are several formats around – just google A3 problem solving. I have summarised the first 4 steps below: Step 1: Problem Statement Set out why this is important? A couple of sentences about the size of the issue, how long it has been going on, impact on patients, their families and staff. For example Over the last 4 months we've seen a reduction in patients triaged from X% to Y%. There was a near miss event last week that would have been averted had triage been in place on that shift and staff are concerned that there is no single process for them to follow. OR Our surveys over the last 6 months indicate that only X% of our clients are fully engaged in the development of their care plans. We need to address this urgently in order to ensure best outcomes for our clients and support family members and carers who are willing and able to participate. This is your call to action – if it isn’t making your staff and clients sit up and want to engage then it needs more work. Step 2: Current Situation What you know about the issues, what staff are saying, what patients and their families are saying (small surveys are great), what the data is telling you, any protocols or algorithms, and anything else that you need to know. Step 3: Vision & Goals Vision: A softer statement of quality AND Goal(s) : Measurable goal(s) and when you are aiming to deliver, for example: From June 2020: ‘X% of patients to be triaged within Y minutes of arrival‘ AND ‘Y % of patients triaged to the correct clinical pathway’ Step 4: Analysis: Top Contributors & Root Causes Use a cause and effect (fishbone) diagram to ensure you are capturing the many causes For example, the methods in place that may not be working quite so well, things to do with the environment, equipment and the people, both patients and staff. Once these are all out on the table then you can use root cause analysis to get underneath them. It’s only at steps five and six that you start to think about the actions that you will take forward and how you might fix some of these big issues. The full A3 is pasted below: And finally, it goes without saying that step nine, ‘insights’, is key. In my experience, people get best benefit if they complete this as they go along. There is always learning, for example people you might have engaged sooner, early identification of others who are already on top of the issue and able to share their work with you so you can adapt for your own use – we used to call it ‘assisted wheel re-invention’ when I worked for the NHS Modernisation Agency. Please leave a comment below or message me through the hub @Sally Howard if you want to know more. I'm very happy to talk further about this approach.
  8. Content Article
    Over the past ten years, I have helped dozens of organisations in the NHS, higher education and in corporate contexts start using AAR to improve the quality of learning after events. Yet despite the proven value of AAR to patient safety and team performance,1 AAR has still not made the impact it can and should. This short article explains some of the barriers to implementation that I have encountered during this time so that you can mitigate for them in your own context. In 2009, I joined a team at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) that had adapted the AAR concept from the military for use in the NHS. AAR provides a deceptively simple vehicle to structure healthy blame-free team interactions and the aim was to improve patient safety, clinical practice and team behaviours.2 The AAR approach has since become business as usual at UCLH where it is now widely understood and frequently used. What my colleagues at UCLH recognised so well is that AAR is so much more than the four questions you get when you type After Action Review into a search engine3 and, thus, designed the introduction of the approach with this in mind. A paper in the Harvard Business Review4 describes why AAR has so often failed in the corporate environment and this gives useful insights, but I have witnessed three particular challenges in the healthcare setting. 1. Fear The organisational and psychological barriers to being able to talk honestly about errors in multi-professional teams are accentuated by the hierarchical nature of the clinical context. Put simply, this means, despite everyone’s best intention to learn from a near-miss or an unexpected event, there will be fear about being fully open in front of those more senior or junior and those from other disciplines. If we are being really honest with ourselves, we know this to be true. Fear of what others think about what we have done, and whether it will affect our standing in some way, is a universal human trait which is increased when the boss is in the room. This fear is in direct tension with the AAR concept of openness and cross-disciplinary learning and will act as a barrier to calling AARs unless leaders act as role models in AARs and set the scene by being honest and open themselves. 2. Blame The emotive nature of clinical care heightens the response when things go wrong meaning the tendency to find something or someone to blame is increased. Not only do we have institutional demands pressing hard for straightforward answers, meaning we look for something obvious to blame, we also have our own human reaction to distance our self from responsibility. This traditional reaction again lies in direct tension with the very idea of AAR, where the process is not to blame but to learn. The research is clear, that in this most complex of operating environments there is rarely a single point of failure or a single individual who is to blame, instead there are multiple causes and effects, which ,when better understood, provide a firm place from which to make effective changes. 3. Responsibility The concept of clinical professionalism is centred around the individual’s’ responsibility to deliver safe effective care and it is rooted in the very foundations of how the NHS was created. Clinicians are raised in the belief that they should know the answers to problems and the whole structure of career progression is based around acquiring more knowledge, research papers and letters after your name. AAR is a process of learning as a group and taking responsibility together to find out how to improve, so it is not surprising that it sits in tension with the historical emphasis on the individual healthcare professional and the value of their existing knowledge. AARs allow for the creation of new knowledge through a collaborative process. The joint guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) on the professional duty of candour states: “Clinical leaders should actively foster a culture of learning and improvement.”5 AAR is one of the best mechanisms to both foster and drive a culture of learning and improvement, but the simplicity of the AAR process itself should not blind you to the need to be very considered in how you mitigate and manage the barriers in a clinical setting. If you would like to discuss AARs further, I'd love to hear from you. Contact me at: judy.walker@its-leadership.co.uk References 1. Tannenbaum SI, Cerasoli CP.  Do team and individual debriefs enhance performance? A meta-analysis. Hum Factors 2013;55(1):231-45. .2. Walker J, Andrews S, Grewcock D, Halligan A. Life in the slow lane: making hospitals safer, slowly but surely. J R Soc Med 2012;105(7):283-7. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.2012.120093. 3. NHS Improvement. Online library of Quality, Service Improvement and Redesign tools: After Action Review. 4. Darling M, Parry C, Moore J. Learning in the Thick of It. Harvard Business Review: July-August 2005 issue. 5. Nursing and Midwifery Council. Openness and honesty when things go wrong: the professional duty of candour. June 2015. Read Judy's previous blog: How can After Action Reviews improve patient safety?
  9. Content Article
    In this article, Miles suggests that we need to recognise that the culture of any one organisation does not arise in isolation. It is part of, and to some extent derives from, an overarching NHS culture. And the national culture does not always seem to treat patient feedback as a valued resource for learning. Evidence of this includes the following: We tolerate the use of dismissive language. Patient feedback is routinely referred to as 'anecdotal evidence'. That diminishes patient experience, and robs it of its value for learning. We are comfortable with a double standard in use of evidence. Medical evidence is cherished, preserved and used. Patient experience evidence is treated as disposable. Both sets of evidence should be accorded equal value. We are content to weaken the independent patient voice. Healthwatch, set up in the wake of the Francis Inquiry, was meant to be a strengthened successor to the Local Involvement Networks. But Healthwatch funding has fallen by over a third since 2013. So what can be done? Miles says we can make a start straight away by tackling the cultural issues referred to above. The term 'anecdotal evidence' must be challenged wherever it is used. Directors of Nursing could lead on this. Patient experience evidence should be embedded in professional training, clinical guidelines and practice protocols—just as medical evidence is.
  10. Content Article
    In this video, Senior Paediatric Intensivist, Adrian Plunkett from Birmingham Childrens Hospital UK, discusses positive reporting (as opposed to incident reporting) in improving morale and outcome in sepsis.
  11. News Article
    Leadership behaviour from the “very top of the NHS” has led to an increase in bullying, according to an official strategy document produced by an acute trust. East and North Hertfordshire Trust published its new people and organisation strategy in its January board papers. Within it, the report said: “Leadership behaviour from the very top of the NHS, during this time of pressure has led to an increase in accusations of bullying, harassment and discrimination.” In a separate section, the paper noted the difficulties of being a healthcare professional, saying “many staff leave before they need to and many more cite bullying, over work and stress, as reasons for absence and mistakes”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 January 2020
  12. Content Article
    Movies from 1939 are engrained in American culture. They share narrative, characters and quotes that people are aware of even if they, alas, haven’t seen the films. The list of films produced in what some consider the finest year in Hollywood history speaks for itself; it includes Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Destry Rides Again, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz and both my and the Academy’s favourite, capping the impressive output with a December 1939 release, Gone with the Wind. While recognising that certain characterisations in these movies haven’t aged well, the films have made an indelible mark on Hollywood history. The films of 1939 laid the groundwork for great things to come. They launched the careers of artists that have made a cultural mark worldwide: need I say more than John Wayne or Judy Garland? Another capstone to a productive year is the end of the 20th year post the publication of To Err in Human. The widely influential 1999 US publication showed us how to fight for patient safety – our Tara. It outlined approaches to address the seemingly reoccurring tornadoes in healthcare built to instead point toward home – a safe health system. Scarlett’s tenacity, her force of personal will and sustained belief in Tara is what pulled her through the maelstroms of civil war Georgia. Clinicians, however, cannot rely on grit and willpower alone to address clinical and organisational threats to safety. The lack of control to minimise systemic pressures on their moral imperative to do a job well in non-supportive situations reduces a clinician’s ability to practice safely. Building on the To Err is Human legacy, The US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is committed to understanding factors that contribute to unsafe care. A NAM recent report on burnout lays out a system-focus strategy for organisations to reduce conditions that degrade physician health and, thus, safe practice. Dorothy’s quest to return home energised her instead to engage a multidisciplinary team. The skills of Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and, yes, even Toto got them through the forest to safety. Without their individual commitment to the mission, humanness and competence the team would have never gotten to Oz. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AMMC) recently released a set of competencies expected in physicians to support quality practice. By suggesting what educators embed in their training efforts, the AAMC helps ensure learning opportunities that build competencies are embedded in programmes on the yellow brick road to safe care provision. Transparency helps us to see situations as they really are. Peaking behind the curtain enables exploration that, if used appropriately, can drive improvement. Toto pulled back the curtain to expose a threat that, once clarified, launched a collaboration that got Dorothy back to Kansas. The US-based Leapfrog Group has also forged a partnership to look behind the curtain. The latest release of the Hospital Safety Score data has focused attention on what isn’t working to support safety while celebrating hospitals that demonstrate sustained safety and quality. The scores track weaknesses in hand hygiene, infection control, and patient falls as elements of whether a hospital is safe. There have been challenges: wicked witches, budget constraints, refusal to accept change and conflicts. It has not been an easy road to Tara since Err is Human was released. Experts in the field have shared their dismay in the lack of progress. Yet stories of resilience, partnership and teamwork continue to motivate the resolve of Dorothy and Scarlett to keep going. Goal-focused efforts can backfire and not live up to their expected purpose. The South didn’t win the Civil war though they believed it was their destiny to do so. Scarlett never won back Ashely no matter how hard she tried. A recent article published in Health Affairs highlights the lack of correlation between the US Medicare and Medicaid programme reimbursement initiative and direct impact on patient safety in the state of Michigan. Its impact is questionable—which for a large-scale solution embedded throughout the system—is humbling. Questionable actions can be a human reaction to stress that needs to be called out and managed to reduce their presence and impact. While centering her as a force for action, Scarlett’s spoiled and selfish behaviour also destroyed her most meaningful relationship. Such destructive behaviours degrade relationships needed for the safety of care. A large US study published in NEJM found that harassment and inappropriate behaviours effect one-third of general surgery residents surveyed, particularly women. The mistreatment and bias generated by both patients/families and medical team members were identified as a key factor in burnout and physician suicide. The stories from great films of 1939 illustrate the power of grit, resolve, focus and leadership as elements of achievement. They share with us memorable characters that live with us long after the movie theatre lights come up. Through the embodiment of the tenacity of Scarlett and the team-focus of Dorothy we can and will work through the known barriers to reduce patient harm due to medical care. We have not yet arrived at Tara, but we continue to work tomorrow toward getting over the rainbow.
  13. Content Article
    This document presents a basic description of ten topic areas relating to organizational and human factors influencing patient safety. It also identifies a selection of tools for the measurement or training of these factors which may be suitable for application in developing, as well as developed, countries. The ten topics are: organisational safety culture managers’ leadership communication team (structures and processes) team leadership (supervisors) situation awareness decision making stress Fatigue work environment.
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