Patient safety roundup – September 2008

September has seen a flurry of activity relating to patient safety in England – perhaps spurred by the deadline of 22 September for submissions to the Health Select Committee’s investigation into patient safety (read previous Healthcare Governance Review post here).

Of particular note is the launch of www.patientsafetyfirst.nhs.uk– the new website for the national patient safety first campaign. The campaign has been “created to change the culture within the NHS; to one that makes the safety of patients the highest priority and makes all avoidable death and harm unacceptable.” According to the website, “the Patient Safety First Campaign seeks to provide NHS staff with the knowledge and support they need to take simple steps to improve the safety of patients in their care.” You can register on the website to show your support for the campaign.

Also of note is an article in the Health Service Journal (15 September 2008) that finds that there is a “massive level of under-reporting of patient safety incidents by GPs. According to the article, “acute trusts log 3,000-4,000 patient safety reports [to the National Patient Safety Agency] every day. But general practice, where 95 per cent of all NHS activity occurs, including the writing of nearly 800 million prescriptions last year, logs just 2,500 a year – a mere 0.4 per cent of the total.” The article provides a useful overview of patient safety reporting in primary care and can be accessed here.

McKinsey has published an excellent account of the US Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) 100,000 lives campaign, which aimed to save 100,000 patients from death associated with preventable errors in healthcare over an 18 month period between 2004-2006. Read the McKinsey article The ergonomics of innovation here.

Also in the USA, the IHI is running an event in Boston on 6 and 7 November looking at the role of board in quality and safety. Titled From the Top: The Role of the Board in Quality and Safety, the conference explore the following key issues:

– Does your board do a better job overseeing finances than quality and safety?
– Could your board send a stronger signal to the organization that it is really serious about achieving quality and safety aims?
– Is your board overwhelmed by quality data and unable to determine what to do with it?
– How can your board more effectively engage with physicians in your quality and safety agenda?
– How will your board handle a sentinel (i.e. serious) event?

For further information on the IHI boards event, click here.

The IHI has also made available an article on board engagement in patient safety. Titled A new challenge in patient safety: Transforming leadership infrastructure through widespread board engagement, the article principally reports on the IHI’s ‘Boards on Board’ campaign, which is part of the IHI’s 5 million lives campaign. The article can be freely downloaded here.

Finally, in this roundup of patient safety matters, readers might like to remember that the Patient’s Association is holding a conference dealing with patient safety and boards in Harrogate on 6 October. For further information, see previous Healthcare Governance Review post here.

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