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WellMed and clinical uncertainty

8 Jun

WellMed

Dr Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi recently attended the Third International Meeting on Wellbeing and Performance in Clinical Practice (WELLMED 3) held in Thessaloniki, Greece.  The conference, which takes place every two years, focuses on the connection between physician health and the quality and safety of care they provide.  The keynote presentation was from Professor Christina Maslach, University of California, Berkeley, USA. As the author of the most widely used tool to measure burnout, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), Professor Maslach’s perspective on burnout in health care staff, which is a growing problem , was informative as was her recommendation for policy-makers to  focus on the workplace environment and not just the individual.

Dr Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi chaired and presented a symposium on Clinical Uncertainty, which comprised of three presentations followed by discussion.  Dr Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi introduced the topic and discussed two recent studies in the area to illustrate how uncertainty is composed of cognitive, emotional and ethical aspects as well as being dynamic. She also noted that the literature in the area is scarce but that uncertainty has real consequences on patients, physicians and the health system.

Dr Evelyn Tsiga presented a study on physicians’ emotional reactions to uncertainty and its impact on decision making in primary care to illustrate how physician behaviour can be affected by uncertainty resulting in undesirable behaviours, such as over-referrals.

The final presentation was given by Dr Avril Danczak. Dr Danczak presented her work on training to manage uncertainty, which highlighted that physicians value such training. She emphasised that clinical uncertainty is normal and it has consequences, yet medical curricula and professional training does not acknowledge or equip clinicians to manage it.

The symposium generated much discussion and the need to address the issue of uncertainty was agreed to be an area of importance for future research.

NHS70 Excellence in Primary Care Award for Nottingham’s Medicine Safety Research Group

22 May

Print

The Medicine Safety Research Group at The University of Nottingham is the regional winner of the Excellence in Primary Care Award category of the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards and is shortlisted for the national award.

The research group was nominated by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EM AHSN), who highlighted a number of developments which are already improving, and will continue to improve, prescribing safety in primary care. These include:

  1. Improving the safety of medicines prescribing through the design and testing of an intervention called PINCER.
  2. Development of ‘prescribing safety indicators’ which are now used in GP computer software to avoid prescribing errors
  3. Identifying the frequency, nature and causes of prescribing errors in general practice, leading to:
  4. Developed a Patient Safety Toolkit for GPs, which is available on the RCGP website and has been accessed over 10,000 times.

The Medication Safety theme of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC has worked closely with the award-winning Nottingham-based research team on many of the developments. A number of these projects and interventions will be developed further over the coming years, through a continued collaboration between the Greater Manchester PSTRC and the University of Nottingham.

British Journal of General Practice Research Conference 2018

3 May

BJGP banner & Sudeh combined

Dr Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi recently attended the inaugural British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) Conference, held at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), on March 23rd. This one-day conference was opened by Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, and the journal’s editor Professor Roger Jones. Plenaries were provided by Professor Richard Hobbs and Professor Pali Hungin, who gave an overview of some the key primary care research successes and discussed the future of general practice respectively.

Common to both talks was the focus on the growing primary care workforce crisis and the increasing workload that the diminishing workforce is attempting to deliver. From a patient safety perspective, safe staffing levels in hospitals and from an access perspective, GP provision are critical to safe service delivery.

Various solutions were suggested and the acknowledgement that there was no magic bullet. Dr Cheraghi-Sohi gave an oral presentation on her work on measuring diagnostic errors in UK general practice. An audience of primarily clinicians attended the fifteen minute presentation and engaged in a lively and positive debate on the topic once the presentation finished covering various aspects of the methods and findings. Indeed, the issue of workload was discussed and how this may contribute to the increasing occurrence of diagnostic errors.

In addition to the oral presentations, poster sessions and workshops on critical reading, peer review and how to beat procrastination in your writing were offered throughout the day.  In summary, there was a well-balanced structure to the conference programme with plenty of free-time for networking.

Making prescribing safer with PINCER

16 Mar

Pharmacist

Recent news reports brought home the importance of reducing medication errors in healthcare. The news coverage highlighted that research, conducted by university academics in Manchester, Sheffield and York estimated 230,000 errors each year in the administering of medication in the NHS, contributing to 22,000 deaths. While the majority of these errors are spotted (and corrected) at the point of error, or do not threaten patient safety, a drastic reduction in the number of errors is now being called for. A change from the current culture of blame to a learning culture is one solution being discussed, but there are other, more practical interventions already in existence.

Once such intervention, called PINCER, is a pharmacist-led intervention developed at the Universities of Nottingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. PINCER has been shown to be an effective method for reducing a range of clinically important and commonly made medication errors in primary care.  Using a set of ‘prescribing safety indicators’ which identify common, but potentially harmful, medication prescribing errors, the intervention involves:

  •         Running searches on GP computer systems to identify patients at risk from common and important prescribing and drug monitoring errors
  •         Pharmacists – trained in the PINCER approach – working with individual general practices to develop an action plan to address the issues identified
  •         Pharmacists (and pharmacy technicians) working with and supporting general practice staff to implement the action plan.

With funding from the Health Foundation and East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, PINCER has been rolled out to 360 practices across the East Midlands since September 2015.  Over 2.9 million patient records have been searched, identifying over 21,000 instances of hazardous prescribing. Applying trends from data collected as part of the evaluation of the rollout, it is estimated that over 10,500 patients have received an active intervention resulting in safer care as a direct benefit of implementing the intervention.

The PINCER intervention has been incorporated into national guidelines to support medicines optimisation by NICE and a more detailed evaluation of the rollout in the East midlands is being done as part of a new NIHR funded programme grant called PRoTeCT to explore whether implementing PINCER reduces avoidable medication-related harm and hospital admissions.

A Patient Safety Toolkit for general practice

15 Mar

Patient-Safety-Toolkit_Banner2

The development and testing of a Patient Safety Toolkit for general practice has taken place over a number of years by a partnership of researchers at the Greater Manchester PSTRC in Nottingham (including Tony Avery, Brian Bell, Sarah Rodgers, Ndeshi Salema, Rachel Spencer) and Manchester (including Stephen Campbell, Kathy Perryman) the NIHR School for Primary Care Research at the Universities of Birmingham, Keele, Oxford and Southampton, as well as the University of Exeter.

The Patient Safety Toolkit is hosted on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) website. The RCGP is a network of over 52,000 family doctors. The Toolkit is important in preventing patients from being harmed. It is designed to be used by any general practice in the UK and covers the following topics:

  • safe systems
  • safety culture
  • communication
  • patient reported problems
  • diagnostic safety
  • prescribing safety

This range of topics addresses the fact that patient safety is complex and multidimensional. Improving patient safety requires preventing, identifying and addressing issues using practical and actionable information. The collection of tools is hosted on a single platform, which makes it easy to use and enables general practices to identify safety deficits. They can then review and change procedures to improve their patient safety across a key set of patient safety issues.

The research team has published a summary paper, which has been published in the Journal of Patient Safety: A Patient Safety Toolkit for Family Practices

Introducing…Safer Care Transitions

1 Jun

by Justin Waring (University of Nottingham) and Harm van Marwijk (University of Manchester)

Safer Care Transitions will be one of the research themes in the NIHR PSTRC Greater Manchester which will run from 1 August 2017 until 31 July 2022.

Safer Care Transitions blog icon

Patient journeys are full of care transitions. By transitions, we mean that the responsibility for patient care is transferred or handed over from one team, department or organisation to another.

If we think about someone who experiences an accident at work, they might be seen at first by a paramedic before being transported by ambulance to their local hospital’s emergency department. There they might receive urgent care before being admitted into the hospital for follow-up care. When recovered, the patient will then be discharged home or to community setting where they could receive rehabilitation, nursing care, social care and follow-up treatments by their GP, under the primary medical responsibility of the GP.  The GPs’ medical records can follow most of such transitions and provide an overarching view, but others (patients) cannot access such data now. GPs would be seen to have an overarching responsibility to facilitate seamless management between settings but little work has been done on this.

Transitions are common to virtually all patient journeys, because healthcare services are provided by specialists and professionals who work in different clinics, surgeries and hospitals. Although there is now better understanding of what makes for safer care within each of these care settings, there is less of a clear picture about what makes for safer care transitions between these care settings, and how to develop problem-based records that capture transitions and are accessible to more than GP practices.

There is mounting evidence from around the world that care transitions are a high-risk stage in the patient journey. Research from the US, for example, suggests that as many as two out of every ten hospital discharges will experience some form of safety incident. These safety incidents take the form of incorrect medicines, missing equipment, or inappropriate care planning.  Research within the NHS suggests that it is often difficult to coordinate the involvement of different professionals and specialists because of common communication breakdowns and the difficulties of finding time to work together to identify solutions to common problems or work from a shared and validated record. A recent Healthwatch report highlighted the enormous suffering and anxiety experienced by patients as they approach hospital discharge, often because of the uncertainties about when they will go home, who will look after them, and how they will cope. Current resources constraints within the health and social care sectors have seemed to make these problems worse, with limits on the availability of social care to support safe hospital discharge.

The Patient Safety Translational Research Centre Greater Manchester is leading a programme of research that will develop new learning about what makes for safer care transitions. It will look to ways of working and technological breakthroughs in other sectors to learn lessons for the NHS. For example, many courier and supply chain services use advanced technologies to track their deliveries. There is also greater scope to empower patients to coordinate their own care through developing smart technologies that enable them to manage and share their own records with different healthcare professionals. There is also much healthcare services could learn from other industries about ensuring continuous accountability for care, so that someone is always there to speak up for and protect the safety of patients, and ways to develop such support for the most vulnerable trajectories such as around cancer and frail older people.

The projects developed in this theme will address the safety of care transitions in primary and secondary care, in mental health services, in chronic conditions, cancer care, and end of life care, to ensure learning and innovations are shared across the health and social care sectors.

Further information:

Healthwatch (2016) Safely Home, London: Healthwatch. http://www.healthwatch.co.uk/safely-home

Waring, J., Bishop, S., & Marshall, F. (2016). A qualitative study of professional and carer perceptions of the threats to safe hospital discharge for stroke and hip fracture patients in the English National Health Service. BMC health services research, 16(1), 297.

https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-016-1568-2

Forster, A. J., Murff, H. J., Peterson, J. F., Gandhi, T. K., & Bates, D. W. (2003). The incidence and severity of adverse events affecting patients after discharge from the hospital. Annals of internal medicine, 138(3), 161-167.

What makes a ‘good’ GP?

5 Apr

by Golda Gibson, member of the Greater Manchester PSTRC Research User Group

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My guess is that for every person there will be a slightly different answer. We all want them to be knowledgeable, to know when something might be going wrong with us and to act decisively thus protecting us from further harm. Where we may differ will be in our personal relationship with our GP, what is perhaps important for one will not necessarily be the same for another. Within us we all have what are known as ‘trigger points’, areas controlled by our emotions, past memories good and bad of how we were related to in a given situation, the ‘building blocks’ of our emotional development that affect how we behave in many circumstances and those momentous moments when we can actually act objectively. You will all be aware of that instantaneous moment when you meet someone for the first time – and dislike them!!! How can that be? It is not THAT person that is the problem, it is our response to past negative experiences which that person has now triggered. This can happen between family, friends, colleagues, the person in the street and yes, with your doctor, he/she too is just another human being with all the ‘baggage’ we all carry around with us each day.  They and we, can be reactive, defensive, introverted, extroverted. They and we, can have home problems, family problems, car problems, even late night problems, but what we want in our exchanges is for our healthcare professional (and us) to be able to ‘place’ those problems where they belong.

When we go to the GP or any healthcare professional for that matter we are asking to be ‘made better’, we are unable to be ‘objective’ about ourselves. This childlike position is vulnerable and it is in this very situation when, if we are not received in a positive away the relationship can falter. What we are looking for is respect for our lack of knowledge, concern for our anxieties, interest in our suffering and empathic understanding of how we feel and why.

Are there such GPs about? Probably not that many but I am very lucky to have found one.

Four years ago when I first became ill my diagnoses floored me. ME!!! – (not M.E.) the one who exercised regularly, ate healthily, kept control over my weight and was still working in her 71st year in a very exacting job, I had become chronically ill, my body had let me down and all that NHS propaganda about the need for a healthy lifestyle hadn’t worked. To make matters even worse, twelve days after my diagnoses my husband had a stroke. In less than two weeks I had become a patient and a carer, my career was over and my whole world had changed irretrievably.

I met my GP not at the point of diagnoses but shortly after when treatment was being started and I was given an urgent appointment. His first words to me on entering his room were …’I’m so sorry’. Those were the first kind words I’d had said to me and they penetrated through this shocked state I was in. Without being fully aware of it I had made a mental note that day that this was the doctor I was going to deal with, this was a ‘feeling’ man, someone who without a word from me had recognised my anguish and made it his own, our ’emotional baggage’ had not got in the way of our first exchange, we were accepting of each other, I was vulnerable, sad, totally overwhelmed and angry, add to that my  ‘feisty’ personality and my anger could have destroyed the moment but his warmth towards me quietened me.  

During that first eighteen months he always made a 4-6 week follow-up appointment for me before I left his surgery, even though there were times I felt that perhaps I didn’t need it. He became my advocate, guiding me, advising me, listening to my concerns and always ready to respond. When treatment with one clinician or another wasn’t up to standard he responded. He never judged me, never made me feel I was a ‘difficult patient’ although I’m sure others might and have!  I ask questions and I expect answers and I know when I was being ‘talked down to’ with rubbish. My GP is never patronising, always and without exception he is pleased to see me, he likes me and I can tell. When I enter his office, time is mine, there is no clock saying ‘time up’, I am made to feel that I have as much time as I need.

As time went on my own condition worsened and also that of my husband. Through numerous ‘urgent’ moments my doctor was always there, guiding, advising and supporting. When I couldn’t get appointments to see him he gave me a ‘hotline’ that allowed me to make direct contact with him should I need it and a promise that he would always ‘fit me in’ should an appointment be necessary. He also connected me to a new innovative community caring system where I am able to make contact with a Nurse Practitioner directly on the day I need it if I became unwell and found it difficult to care for my husband.

My husband who was not initially with him but with another practice, is not very mobile, it is difficult for me to get him to the surgery, impossible at his previous surgery as they were on a main road next to traffic lights with no parking area whatsoever. My doctor has said to me more than once he would call and see ‘H’ at home if it would be easier for me! I have also known him just to phone me to ask how I am when he had not seen me for a while. Very rare qualities.

Some months ago I received an email from one of the doctor ‘comics’ that are delivered to the practices around the country and also electronically. In it an article asked if there was a deserving GP in your practice that was worthy of being nominated for a national champion award for the care of R.A patients. This was my chance to get my wonderful doctor recognised and acknowledged for his exceptional care to me and all his patients. I then had to set up a plan whereby I enlisted the help of the Assistant Practice Manager who in turn sought help from one of the other GPs in the practice to fill in a part of the form I couldn’t due to not being privy to that particular information, and then it was my turn to get my chance (only one) to write about this wonderful man. I knew it had to be written with a passion that conveyed just who he is and what he is to his patients. As I said, I was only going to get this one chance and they had only given me 400 words in which to do it!! There would be many practices and patients nationally who would be submitting their own nominee and there were only ten championship awards to be had in the whole of the country, my writing had to ‘stand out’, it had to make the reader ‘feel’ as I did – AND WE MANAGED IT – HE GOT THE AWARD!!! The ceremony took place at the House of Commons on the 2nd November and the awards were given by the Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May.

Afterwards he wrote me the most beautiful thank you letter in which he told me that the personal qualities I bestow upon him are really a reflection of myself. Doesn’t that just tell you what kind of a man he is. I am extremely fortunate and blessed to have such a doctor. In this crazy 21st century NHS, with reductions and shortages in just about everything, when talking (the same story) to just one more person makes you want to tear your hair out and you begin feeling as though it is you who are the problem. When you hear yourself getting sharp and snappy on the phone to one or other department and no one is actually listening and even if they listen and promise that what you’re asking for will get done – it then doesn’t get acted upon. When I reach that rock bottom moment I have my GP.