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Found 78 results
  1. Content Article
    Ever have one of those days when you feel you are constantly walking up the down escalator, when it just feels tougher than it should? It is hardly surprising that we feel like this during COVID-19. Our previous routines for our work, leisure, friends, family have all been thrown up in the air and are continuing to change. I do not have a miracle cure (if only). However, taking a moment to think about the way you are naturally wired, and how others may be wired differently, can be helpful. It can take away the irritation and frustration and help us develop a few coping strategies. Or, to put it in the words of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, ‘everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves’. We all have a ‘type’… The theory of psychological type comes from Jung who said that what appears to be random behaviour is actually the result of differences in the way people prefer to use their mental capacities. In 1921 he published Psychological Types, introducing the idea that each person has a psychological type. However, the academic language of the book made it hard to read and few people could understand and use the ideas for practical purposes. Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs set out to find an easier way for people to use Jung's ideas in everyday life. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory makes the theory of psychological types described by Jung understandable and useful. I have used this both with individuals and teams over the years and, more recently, as people get used to different routines. To do an MBTI assessment properly you do need to complete a questionnaire and have a follow up conversation with an MBTI practitioner – all practitioners are trained to administer the tool properly. However, in these tricky COVID times when some of those resources may be less readily available, this blog is to help you reflect on your preferences and how these play out in practice. The four ‘dimensions’ of MBTI 1 How you gain your energy and re-charge your batteries Some of us gain energy through interaction with others, others through quiet reflection. Our work settings are often designed for extroverts, the noise and the constant interaction, not great for introverts who do their best work in a quieter setting. People with an extroverted preference will ‘speak think speak’, whereas those with an introverted preference will ‘think speak think’. Just recently you may have noticed natural extroverts on Zoom calls – the people doing a lot of the talking. The downside of course is that others cannot get a word in edge-ways. If you don’t know what an extrovert is thinking, you have not listened. If you don’t know what an introvert is thinking, you have not asked. And, crucially, you may be missing out on some key information. 2 What type of information you prefer to take in, trust and offer to others When I talk to people about dimension, I often show them a Salvador Dali picture. People who have a strong preference for factual concrete information will give me a list of the painting contents – an apple a knife a bird etc. Others will be reading between the lines and creating possibilities, ‘something has happened here, it’s unsettling’. If I prefer the big picture, any presentation of my ideas with a compelling vision but no detail to back it up is going to raise more questions than it answers from those who prefer realistic and concrete information. It is normally best to think through how to balance the more abstract and the specifics, maybe asking yourself, ‘what’s missing here?' 3 How you prefer to make important decisions Some of us prefer a logical lens. We look at the pros and the cons, we want to help people to solve their problem. Others are concerned about how what is about to happen will impact on others, their values. If you have ever tried to have a pros and cons conversation with someone who appears (as far as you can tell) to be taking this all a little too personally then it’s this dimension that’s rearing its head. There is a difference in your preferences. In MBTI this is the ‘thinking or feeling’ preference. This does not mean that ‘thinking’ people cannot feel and that ‘feeling’ people do not think. It is just about where you start your decision making. People with a thinking preference take a big step back, start with a detached view and then step in. People with a feeling preference do this in reverse. Both are important. 4 How you prefer to live your life Some of us are natural planners, others spontaneous, sometimes VERY last minute. I learnt many years ago that asking for things at the last minute was a great way to hack off your colleagues. We don’t live in a perfect planful world, but a little consideration goes along way… If you like structure, if the word ‘finished’ inspires you, spare a thought for others who may lob something in at the last minute. Your last minute contributor may have come up with the best idea since sliced bread. If you shut them down they may not bother you again with their great ideas. Your loss. And if you love the words ’just finishing’, try where you can to minimise how often you let things run on until the last possible moment and apologise when you do – it can very stressful for colleagues, friends and family who like to plan. In MBTI all these four dimensions come together for us into 16 different types. MBTI then paves the way for us to better understand our responses to conflict, stress, our contributions within our team and how we can be even better. And, particularly relevant now, it can also help us understand why some are really wired to deal with change and others less so. Final thoughts And finally, I wanted to add a few more things that are useful to bear in mind: This is simply about understanding your natural preferences and sometimes adjusting them. People sometimes say ‘I do both of these’. We learn that adjustments to our natural preferences can be helpful. For example I am very planful in work settings, but for me at home it’s all a bit last minute.com unless I try hard! Which leads into my last point. Expect to be more tired on occasions. If you are required to deal with a lot of detail when you prefer the big picture, be aware it may feel surprisingly tiring. It takes your full concentration, just like folding your arms the other way, also surprisingly tricky for most people I know. Try it! In the meantime I hope my blog helps you to get your head around why you may find some of the super people around you not so super at times and how you can adjust your approach to accept and value their differences. If you are interested to learn more, go to your local NHS Leadership Academy to find your local MBTI practitioners and take a look at the Myers Briggs website. Previous blogs by Sally Leading for improvement Immunity to change How a single piece of paper could help solve complex patient safety issues The art of wobbling: Part 1 The art of wobbling: Part 2 Looking after each other in times of change
  2. Content Article
    Project charters are written documents that come in many forms. For improvement projects, they should include, as a minimum, a concise summary of: What the team wants to achieve from their improvement efforts, described as an improvement aim. Include how much improvement will be achieved, who the improvement is for and when the improvement will be achieved by. Why the work is important – the rationale or business case for the work. This should outline; the problem the work will address, how this links to strategic objectives, how you know this is a problem, who is affected, the impact of doing nothing and the benefits to be derived from improvement e.g. outcomes and costs. The scope of the project - what is included in the work. How the team intend to achieve the improvement aim – this should include initial ideas for change and the supporting activities to make the work happen. How the team will measure the impact of the work. Who will be involved the work and their role. Key people should include; subject matter experts, process owners who can make changes, representatives of those impacted by your project (families, young people, patients, customers etc), finance representative (where needed), and a sponsor linked to executive level for leadership support. Any risks to the delivery of the project, so that decisions can be made on how these should be addressed.
  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
    After working last week and caring for patients who were pending COVID-19 swab results, four days later I woke feeling unwell. A slight cough, tired, pale, feeling freezing cold but no temperature and generally feeling rubbish. This carried on for a few days, I then ended up with common cold-like symptoms and a residual cough. Normally, I probably wouldn’t call in sick, I would have just carried on. Following current guidance, I called in sick and was advised to take the next 7 days off. At this point testing was unavailable for NHS staff. I was sat at home not knowing if I had the virus or not while my colleagues were having to pick up the slack. If I am completely honest, I was glad I didn’t have to go back. I was anxious that we didn’t have the right personal protective equipment (PPE), systems for donning and doffing were not in place, we didn’t know what to expect over the coming days, training for redeployed nurses and doctors was not happening. I just didn’t want to go back anyway. I felt a coward. Over the coming days while I was at home, my husband then became ill, then my youngest son, then the eldest. All with mild symptoms, but still no idea if we had it or not. While I was off, I was contacted by the ‘staff welfare team’. It was just a quick phone call to see how I was, but it made all the difference. I felt like I wasn’t just a ‘worker’ off sick, I was someone that they cared about and were obviously keen to make sure I was coming back! This has never happened before. Reluctantly, I return to work, but it was like I had stepped into a different Trust. Wards with infected patients were labelled as RED wards; huge signs were outside the wards with designated places to don and doff PPE. There were clear guidance on which PPE to wear displayed in poster format. There were green footsteps and red footsteps on the floor enabling you to know which area you were in. PPE safety officers had been deployed to reassure and ensure all departments have enough stock. It felt safer. Leadership at all levels is being tested at this time. Where I work in Brighton, we are invested in ‘Patient First’. This is headed up by our Kaizen Team. All staff are trained in differing levels of quality improvement (QI). All wards and departments have improvement huddles, where they can raise a mini project and see it through. We all speak the same QI language. I dread to think what would happen if we didn’t have this in place during this awful time. By having this process, it has empowered ALL staff to speak up and give permission for frontline staff to improve processes where they work. Our executive leadership team have done an amazing job in such a small amount of time. They have increased ITU capacity, they have reshaped rotas, redeployed staff, re employed staff, transformed patient pathways (red and green pathways), pooled staff, set up systems for donations… There has been so much achieved in a short amount of time; the top-level organisation has been incredible. All this in seven days. They have been phenomenal at strategy, planning and overall management and leadership of what I call ‘the big stuff’. What they are not so good at is the ‘small stuff’. We, frontline workers are brilliant at this. The practicalities of work – where can I don and doff, where the bins should be, how do I know this bed has been cleaned? What do we do when someone dies? Can relatives visit? How do we know who is who in PPE? How can we make sure we don’t contaminate clean areas? How do we take blood now? We know what needs to be improved, we know what is missing. It’s the small details that worries staff, it’s the small details that can save lives. As I was walking seeing patients from different wards, I heard staff saying – this isn’t right – we could improve that. They can raise a ticket on the huddle board and they could initiate the change. If the change could be replicated else where in the Trust, the Matron or ward manager can then raise it at the Bronze meeting, the bronze would then raise it to Silver and then implemented. I often hear that we use a top down, bottom up approach but never really thought it works, as there is so much red tape involved in healthcare. Quite often frontline ideas never reach the top level and they fall flat. This time it’s very different. To test the system, you need to stress the system. This system of QI and communication is working. We are all learning together. None of us have dealt with a pandemic before. Frontline staff have been given the permission to improve the way real work is done, quickly and safely, while the top-level management are concentrating on strategy, planning, implementation and co-ordination of services. We are listening to each other, we are rapidly changing and adapting, the whole Trust is in a constant state of PDSA cycles. It feels dynamic, proactive and controlled. If this pandemic happened 10 years ago in our trust, I am convinced that we would not be in the position we are now. We have enough intensive care beds, we have the capacity to expand further, we are ready.
  5. Content Article
    My original plan for this blog was to explore why change is a bit Marmite – some of us love change (the ‘bring it on’ group), and others less so. Then the COVID-19 jar was opened and everything changed. We are all impacted in different ways, both staff and patients. Whether it’s even more time at work, less time with those we love, wanting to be at work but having to self isolate, loss of our identity as the one who always does x or y, how as patients we interact with our NHS, or the loss of those we love. Transitions are challenging William Bridges says it isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is something that happens to people, even if they don't agree with it. Transition, on the other hand, is internal. It's what happens in people's minds as they go through change. Change can happen very quickly, while transition usually occurs more slowly as we internalise and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about. Stages of transitioning include: Ending - letting go of the old ways and the old identity. The neutral zone - going through an in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully operational, when the critical psychological re-alignments and re-patterning take place. New beginnings – when we come out of the transition and develop a new identity, experience a new energy and discover a new sense of purpose. 3 tips for dealing with transition So what can we do to ease the transition? Here’s my three As for the day: Acceptance Accept that we will each make our transition at different paces. For some shock and denial through to acceptance and hope is rapid, for others it may take longer. So more than ever looking after each other is key. Steve Covey’s talks about making a deposit in the emotional bank account: understanding your friend, your colleague, a small act of kindness. What will be a deposit for you, may be a valuable withdrawal for them. Appreciation There’s already a zillion examples of people moving hell and high water to do what needs to be done to best respond to COVID-19, positive energy is thriving. Appreciating this is just as important. We can show our appreciation locally in our teams, on an individual basis or by joining the nation in clapping those who are helping to keep our world turning,. Awareness Be aware of high levels of anxiety and exhaustion in yourself and those around you. We are all stressed by different things. For some it’s spending too much time alone. Others ambiguity and uncertainty. Some will struggle most with decisions they think are illogical, last minute or require super human endeavours. Knowing our own limits and triggers and those of people around us is key. When you spot them, pause just for a vital moment, take a brief step back before anyone keels over and think through next steps. Explore information and ideas and talk them through with others. And where you can see that someone isn’t in a good place, give them permission to re-charge their batteries so their brilliance can continue to shine. “Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson References William Bridges, Bridges Transition Model, 1988. Stephen R. Covey. The seven habits of highly effective people. Franklin Covey, 1990. Previous blogs by Sally Leading for improvement Immunity to change How a single piece of paper could help solve complex patient safety issues The art of wobbling: Part 1 The art of wobbling: Part 2
  6. News Article
    As the world writhes in the grip of Covid-19, the epidemic has revealed something majestic and inspiring: millions of health care workers running to where they are needed, on duty, sometimes risking their own lives. In his article in the New York Times, Don Berwick says he has never before seen such an extensive, voluntary outpouring of medical help at such a global scale. Millions of health care workers are running to where they are needed, sometimes risking their lives. Intensive care doctors in Seattle connect with intensive care doctors in Wuhan to gather specific intelligence on what the Chinese have learned: details of diagnostic strategies, the physiology of the disease, approaches to managing lung failure, and more. City by city, hospitals mobilise creatively to get ready for the possible deluge: bring in retired staff members, train nurses and doctors in real time, share data on supplies around the region, set up special isolation units and scale up capacity by a factor of 100 or 1000. "We are witnessing professionalism in its highest form, skilled people putting the interests of those they serve above their own interests." Read full article Source: New York Times, 23 March 2020
  7. Content Article
    Key take-away messages The healthcare organisation you work in is a system of interacting human elements, roles, responsibilities and relationships. Quality and patient safety are performed by your human-designed organisational structures, processes, leadership styles, people's professional and cultural backgrounds, and organizational policies and practices. The level of interconnection of all these aspects will impact the distribution of perception, cognition, emotion and consciousness with the organisation you work for. What goes on between people defines what your health system is and what it can become.
  8. Content Article
    Learning objectives In this session participants will learn about: The design of the patient's journey and experience. Practical ways to introduce co-production in your setting. An overall framework that can help teams to work more effectively with patients and their families.
  9. Content Article
    The story so far... We investigate an incident to collect facts that will prevent the incident from occurring again (see 'Why investigate?' blog). Facts collected by two or more investigators, with enough time away from the ‘day job’, tend to be of better quality than a single person fitting the investigation in and around their other duties (see 'Who should investigate?' blog). Human factors is a science done by science types who are trained in understanding how the limited ‘cave dweller’ tries to cope with their environment. Human factors types are not likely to have the title ‘Captain’ and have not just landed at Stansted (see 'Human factors' blog). Facts are our friend as they allow us to tell people why an incident occurred and, if those facts are accurate, allow us to do an intervention that will prevent the incident occurring again (see 'Where do facts come from?' blog). Good facts and great remedies allow us then to monitor the success of the intervention. But again, we are getting ahead of ourselves by talking about interventions. Sorry. At this stage it might be worth thinking about what we do with all those facts, how we see patterns in the data, what a good intervention might look like, and how and when we monitor success. As we have seen previously, there are four principal areas where facts come from: the human, the equipment, the environment and the system of working. How the investigation is conducted and by whom, and as we shall see ‘when’, affects these four principal areas of investigation and the three methods of intervention. So, four areas of investigation with facts emerging from many different sources: from inside the witness’s mind, from ward records, from engineering logs, etc. How these facts come together to form a big picture needs to be considered in terms of the intervention. A later blog will explain these interventions (after we discuss data and analysis – yay statistics), but for now it’s worth saying the three interventions are called ‘the three ‘Es’. Luckily the three words all start with the letter E so it makes sense. Engineering – The most effective intervention, as the machine keeps the cave dweller from making mistakes. Enforcement – Where someone polices the method of working or the equipment used, in a given environment. Education – the least effective method, which relies on a training course or a poster. “Don’t operate on the wrong side of a patient”. Well I never, what a useful reminder in a theatre. My favourite was at a rail depot. A poster (1 of 80 in the area) said. “Be alert and check the doors”. Really closing the train doors is a good idea… More in the intervention blogs. The why, the who, the what data collected will affect the quality of the facts. The facts collected determine the intervention chosen. The monitoring of success of the intervention is, perhaps, determined by the original hypothesis of the investigator, very early on in the investigation. We may do a blog on bias in investigations. A word of caution. You don’t always do an intervention. ‘Eek’ I hear screamed from every trust. This is because, as we have discussed, an incident is a rare random event with multiple causes. Sometimes an incident, or series of incidents, have occurred due to the random nature of humans and an emerging pattern of data is thought to have been found. This pattern, and these series of events, are, however, just random. So, very early on in this blog, I introduce the idea that ‘when’ an intervention might occur might be never. An example… Lots of crashes occurred along a three mile stretch of road. Detailed investigations revealed no pattern in any of the crash’s causation. The local authority had over £3 million to spend and was determined to spend it (they rightly want to keep their community safe). Well what intervention would you do given that there is no pattern? There is no consistency in the facts and the only pattern might possibly be in the investigators' minds. Given accidents are rare random events, if you do an intervention will it not make it worse? If it makes it worse, how do you reconcile your ‘no pattern data’? A comment was made by the local authority that suggested a pattern existed and we were not good at investigations and human factors. We reviewed the data again and conducted interviews with those involved (at our own expense). Indeed, there was perhaps a pattern. If you were female (most were), you were travelling north (most were), you were in the early stages of pregnancy (most were) – you appear to be involved in a crash. We noted this at home visits and it’s not recorded in the police data. Upon reporting back, the local authority understood that incidents are indeed rare random events and sometimes data emerges with no explanation. The comment from the authority – “So the only intervention is planned parenthood advice a few days before undertaking any northbound journey?” Indeed, that’s the correct conclusion for the data. No intervention was undertaken, and seven years later no incidents have occurred, and we understand the northbound mummies and babies are doing fine. The local authority remains a client after 18 years. It might be the case that (as my reviewer points out) that “maybe there was a factor there, but it went away without intervention (sleepwalking cattle randomly moved to another field further from the road)”. Hopefully, that should show the connection between the philosophy of data collection, its method of collection and by who, and how it affects the intervention and prevention. Also, the benefits of planned parenthood when travelling northbound. Hopefully, I’ve rounded up the last four blogs. So it’s now time to look at the when; like parenthood, it affects the outcomes too! When to investigate? When to investigate is determined by the facts you want to collect, where those facts come from and whether those facts are time sensitive, and your availability and the accessibility of the location. In broad terms, the ‘when’ is affected by two types of evidence: physical stuff and human witness stuff. Physical evidence Let’s start with a photograph. (Warning the image below contains graphic depictions of an older man in shorts!) Image 1: Older man finds the remains of an aircraft converted to a bar and restaurant. Copyright: User Perspective Ltd. Recovering engineering or physical evidence is less time sensitive than information from witnesses. Ward records can last a long time and engineering logs can as well. If you collect evidence from CCTV – that has a life span of 30 days. Generally, in medicine physical evidence is not time sensitive. However, like the image above, it shows that if you leave evidence for long enough someone will change it. In this case they make it into a restaurant. I eat elsewhere as I was sure a fellow human factor person was looking for the crash site! Human stuff – witnesses Most of the facts you collect come from witnesses, aka humans, aka cave dwellers. As we shall see in the ‘how to interview’ blogs, the facts are contained in the mind and it’s not easy to get them out. As you can see in Image 2 below, the decline in the availability of facts is very severe after 20 minutes. In later blogs we can discuss how to interview witnesses and how to get good quality data. Image 2: The Forgetting curve 1885. Copyright: User Perspective and HM Government (for this version). The important bit now is to think about the basic processes of human memory, which are: Perception – information gets into the mind. Encoding – its related to other facts and ‘digitised’. Storage – we need to keep it somewhere. Retrieval. Unless it can be extracted, it’s not useful. Each of these stages is associated with a decline in the quality of data and its retrieval is based on the ability of (in this case) the interviewer extracting it. As we are talking about when, the important thing is to get to those memories as quickly as possible and, certainly in medicine, to ensure that witnesses don’t get to chat to each other. If you want evidence from humans – get it quickly and ensure they don’t talk to each other. How quickly? It’s called the golden 24 hours in accident investigation – even though the graph from 1885 suggests a lot shorter time span. Incidentally, the person(s) reporting the incident needs acknowledgement a lot quicker than the 24 hours. Your availability and access Ideally you are a human factors person with a ‘go bag’. I’ve several ‘go bags’ that contain equipment needed for each domain (road, rail, security) I work in. The road one has green high vis, the rail has orange. The security one has assorted passes and body armour. This may be different in medicine. You might not be the first person called, and you work shifts, the chances of a call in the middle of the night is most likely rare. In other domains access is aided by blue lights and the possibility of handcuffs. Healthcare is different – remember these blogs are about prevention rather than prosecution. However, the point is that every second counts and the sooner you are there the better the data. Summary The facts you collect, how those facts are collected, and by who and when, affects the conclusions you can draw about the incident. Physical data lasts longer than human memory data but, as the picture of the ‘converted’ aircraft shows – things change. Who and when the facts are collected affects the interventions you can use, and the reliability of testing those interventions you trial / test. Human factors people or psychologists are a vital part of the team. They are only part of the team. You should see a pattern. What evidence (when it’s done and by whom) you collect, affects the intervention and its success. With no data you should not do any interventions. Indeed, without data you may not wish to. Remember it’s about outcomes and not just documented processes. In the words of the philosophers – Metallica – “nothing else matters”. Next time... Human factors part 2, or should we do interventions? Like the Star Wars films, these blogs may appear in the wrong order but the final box set hopefully makes sense! Comments welcome young Skywalker. Read Martin's other blogs Why investigate? Part 1 Why investigate? Part 2: Where do facts come from (mummy)? Who should investigate? Part 3 Human factors – the scientific study of man in her built environment. Part 4 How or why. Part 6
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