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How to improve patient safety: 5 strategies

21 October 2021

Asian Female doctor meeting patient

As many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient health care worldwide, with up to 80% of this being avoidable harm. The most common errors relate to diagnosis and medical errors. There’s also the issue of patient safety failures being extremely costly, dwarfing those of prevention. It’s thought that in OECD countries, which include the UK, 15% of hospital expenditure and activity are caused by treating safety failures.

 

Patient safety is “the avoidance of unintended or unexpected harm to people during the provision of health care”. So, how can healthcare systems like the NHS improve patient experience and safety in order to reduce these adverse events?

 

1. Leave manual methods behind

Manual methods of working open up opportunities for human error, which can lead to adverse events. If working on paper, it’s not only time consuming but also open to interpretation from handwriting. If working on a system like Excel, it can only cope with so much and becomes cumbersome and complicated.

Look for suitable software which allows you to go digital with your ways of working, reducing human error, speeding up tasks and automating activities where possible.

 

2. Learn from mistakes

Mistakes do happen, but it’s important to not simply move on. Examine why it happened, what caused it, has it happened before, are there any patterns? The most important thing to do is learn from mistakes to avoid recurrence in future.

An intelligent software like Radar Healthcare has an analytics module which helps identify previously hidden trends, enabling improvements to be made and mistakes avoided in future.

 

3. Allocate tasks effectively

Using dated techniques like email to allocate tasks is open to problems like staff not picking up on or responding to the emails. Effective allocation of tasks with modern software like Radar Healthcare means that when an action plan is triggered from an event, all relevant staff are notified automatically with the actions they need to take. Management also has assurance that tasks have been seen and completed.

 

4. Promote a patient safety culture

The NHS needs to move away from a culture of blame to one of recognising excellence and sharing best practice. Not only complaints and claims should be logged, but also compliments. If, for example, a particular department in a Trust is complimented on a process, this should be shared to others in order to drive improvements across the Trust.

Radar Healthcare provides oversight of a whole trust as well as different areas so that best practice can be identified and shared via communications through the software.

 

5. Replace legacy systems

The cost of clinical claims in the NHS is not improving as hoped, and has in fact been getting worse. Of the entire healthcare budget for the NHS in England, clinical negligence claims have historically consumed about 2% (BMJ). If there are processes in place to reduce claims and improve patient safety, why haven’t we seen success?

Much of the NHS is using legacy systems which are failing to reduce clinical negligence claims. Radar Healthcare is here to change that, and two of our digitally innovative NHS Trust customers, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust, are using our software for just that.

 

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