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Patient Safety: the way forward

8 Aug

by Stephen Campbell, Director of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC

University campus

Seventy five percent of patient safety research is focused on hospitals. Less is known about patient safety outside hospitals, yet 85% of NHS contacts happen in these settings, mostly in general practice and in pharmacies. The scale of primary care in England is huge. There are 340 million general practice consultations annually, with 2% involving a patient safety incident, which means 6.8 million times each year where a patient is potentially at risk of harm. There are one billion prescriptions issued per year outside of hospitals, with 4.9% having an error – 49 million every year. And 20% of patients discharged from hospital will report an adverse event, which could lead to costly readmission to hospital. On 1 August 2012, the Greater Manchester Primary Care Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (Greater Manchester PSTRC) started, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  Our PSTRC has been a groundbreaking centre as it was the first patient safety centre to focus on primary care (general practice, community pharmacies etc.) as well as the interfaces with hospital care. The focus on primary care was intentional and needed.

We have achieved many improvements in primary care safety over the last 5 years. For example, we have developed a “Safer Prescribing” e-learning course for GPs, which has reduced prescribing errors.  We have developed a Medication Safety Dashboard as a “missed opportunity detector” that has resulted in fewer patients being at risk of potentially hazardous prescribing. We have used mobile technology such as smartphone apps to deliver safer healthcare. As an example, ClinTouch monitors symptom change in people with serious mental illness. We have worked in partnership with patients, GPs and pharmacists to create a Patient Safety Guide for general practice.

I am a health services researcher who has focused on the quality and safety of primary care for 25 years. Over that time there have been many advances in improving quality and safety but equally people are living longer, often with several health conditions requiring care from many different sources, in a world that becomes ever more complex with new digital technologies and “intelligent healthcare communities”. Most research and advances in patient safety are typically found within single care settings, such as the emergency department. Less attention has been paid to safety between (transitional) community providers and hospital care settings. Delayed diagnosis, incomplete patient information and medication errors are examples of problems, which may occur both within settings and across an interface. That is why we shall focus on primary care but also on transitional care settings in our second period of 5-years of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which started on 1 August 2017.

Over the next 5 years, our research will focus on:

  • Safety Informatics – developing technologies and behaviours that create safer care systems and to prevent diagnostic errors – working with the Health e-Research Centre
  • Medication Safety –developing safety management systems to ensure safer prescribing and treatment and to prevent medication errors
  • Safer Care Systems and Transitions – a new theme, to make care safer for patients moving between care settings
  • Safety in Marginalised Groups – a new theme – to enable patients and carers to take control of their care. There will be a key focus on patients and carers as well as mental health, working with the Centre for Mental Health and Safety

Service responsibility and patient responsibility for patient safety go hand-in-hand. They are equal. A member of the public seeking healthcare as a patient for themselves or a loved-one deserves the safest and best quality care possible. That is the duty of healthcare providers and professionals. Avoiding errors, or identifying and correcting them, is a high priority. Equally, patients can do much to keep themselves safer in terms of accessing care appropriately, taking medications as prescribed, self-managing a healthy lifestyle with sensible eating and drinking as well as exercising etc. This is the responsibility of each member of the public. It is a shared responsibility that requires co-design and partnership working, which underpins everything we do.

A key aspect of our work, and something which I think is crucial to the PSTRC, is capacity building and training people to be able to conduct and apply research. This includes recruiting PhD students, helping a group of pharmacists to work together on research projects in their own pharmacies, and training researchers as well as members of the public and patients. Healthcare isn’t just about a medical procedure or treatment option, it is about people, both those who deliver the care and those who receive it or work in partnership together. The PSTRC aims to be an interactive research centre working with healthcare professionals, the NHS, local authorities, industry and patients, carers and members of the public to make healthcare safer.

Much is happening in Greater Manchester that gives us opportunities to make a real difference. We will work across Greater Manchester’s newly-integrated Health and Social Care Partnership which serves 3 million people. The Connected Health Cities programme across the north of England will help us get our research implemented. We will continue to work in partnership with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, especially in the research on safer transitions and medication safety. We look forward to new collaborations with colleagues at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. There is much we can do using new digital technologies and behavioural interventions to improve safety and healthcare for the benefit of patients.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved with the PSTRC over the last 5 years. I look forward to working with everyone in the new PSTRC to continue our exciting, innovative and important research. The PSTRC has many outstanding and world-leading researchers and an excellent core staff. There is much to do but we will continue to build the capacity to make care safer.

The PSTRC has a strong involvement and engagement agenda working alongside members of the public and patients as well as healthcare professionals. If you would like to find out more about our research and how you can get involved then please email Zarina Saeed at zarina.saeed@manchester.ac.uk .

 

Why does PPI benefit research?

13 Jul

by Sally Giles, Research Fellow in Core PPI Research theme and Philip Hammond, PPI Coordinator

PPI blog post_July2017

Why do PPI?

“All organisations should seek out the patient and carer voice as an essential asset in monitoring the safety + quality of care” Berwick Review, July 2013

We believe that including the patient voice in our research makes it more meaningful and relevant to the real world.  We have experienced examples of when patient feedback has influenced our research.  As part of the Greater Manchester PSTRC we wanted to look at how PPI impacted on our research in an academic context.  To do this we had a look at the academic literature, firstly to find out why people involve members of the public in their research. We discovered that people who use health services can help to ensure that issues that are identified and prioritised are important to them and therefore to health care, public health and social care as a whole.  Public involvement can help to ensure that money and resources are not wasted on research that has little or no relevance and that being involved in research can help empower people living with a medical condition.  We used this as a basis to develop our own PPI structure within the Greater Manchester PSTRC.

The Research User Group (RUG)

The RUG started off as a group of 12 members of the public, who met every 6 weeks.  Each of the research themes within the Greater Manchester PSTRC were allocated 2 or 3 members to their theme.  A RUG evaluation highlighted that some researchers were heavily reliant on their aligned members for all projects within their theme.  It also highlighted that it was challenging to see how the RUG was having an impact on research, as this impact was mainly happening at project level.   Based on feedback of RUG members and in an attempt to widen involvement by bringing in more associate members of the public, a restructure to the RUG took place.  It was agreed that there should be a split between governance and project level PPI.  This new structure was implemented two years into the centre.

The restructure enabled us to focus more on project level PPI, and we have a number of examples of how PPI has benefitted the research on specific projects.  Some examples follow below:

1.   Multimorbidity Research Advisory Group (MRAG) was set up to involve patients and carers in the development of resources and new research projects for the Multimorbidity theme.  It consisted of 18 group members who provided feedback on research, shared ideas, helped to set research priorities and supported two applications for further funding.

2.   In the Interface & Informatics theme patients and public contributors have been involved in enhancing research by taking part in a number of  sessions aimed at investigating the relevance of an established patient portal for patients with long term conditions (PatientView) and identifying strategies for improvement. This group also commented on draft study protocols, designed and co-facilitated a larger workshop and helped to identify social media and patient associations as an additional recruitment strategy (resulting in 25% more recruits).

3.      In the Medication Safety theme members of the public have been involved in the recruitment of participants for focus groups, co-facilitation of focus groups and coding of transcripts using an existing framework.

4.      For the Core theme members of the public have helped develop the Primary Care Patient Measure of Safety (PC_PMOS) study.  They helped to develop the items to be included in the PC_PMOS and recruited patients in GP practices to complete the PC_PMOS, Patients were able to relate more easily to the PPI members than the research team, which helped to increase participation in the study

5.      In the GP theme there has been public and stakeholder involvement in the patient safety guide project via 3 different involvement groups with key stakeholders.

Thoughts for the future

Our advice to anyone wanting to develop a PPI structure within a large (or small) research centre is to plan carefully by starting with a clear strategy, but be willing to accept that this will constantly change as the needs of those involved evolve.  Involvement needs to continue to be an iterative process, people have different (and changing) needs and get involved for different reasons, and equally research studies have different aims and priorities which need to be addressed when planning involvement.  We see involvement as being broader than patients or members of the public.  Often the end users of our research have been health professionals and as such, our definitions of involvement and engagement have evolved to include all relevant stakeholders.

Introducing…Safety in Marginalised Groups: Mental Health

5 Jul

by Nav Kapur and Roger Webb

shutterstock_640908130_mentalhealth

Safety in mental health services:  reducing suicide and self-harm

Nav Kapur, Research Lead, says:

‘It’s fantastic to be involved in the new NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.  It is particularly exciting that safety in mental health services will be a prominent part of the new work.  We are really looking forward to getting started.  We will be making new appointments (both Research Associates and funded PhD students) in order to make this a world-beating research programme.  The focus on both suicide and self-harm is really pertinent given the current policy and health priority on these very important outcomes.  So over the summer and autumn we will get going on the actual research using a variety of methods.  Personally I can’t wait to start working with the internationally-leading team of researchers, academics and clinicians across the PSTRC’.

Roger Webb, key project lead, says:

‘I’m enthused by this wonderful new initiative, which enables our Centre for Mental Health and Safety to join forces in working collaboratively with a much larger group of internationally renowned experts in the patient safety field. Our planned work programme, focussing on self-harm and suicide, encompasses a number of ground-breaking studies.

These studies include:

  • evaluating how changes to health service provision may impact on national suicide  rates
  • developing and testing psychological treatments following self-harm
  • investigating key transitions from institutional care to living back in the community, among discharged patients and released prisoners with enduring mental health problems
  • assessing clinical management of common mental health problems across healthcare sectors, and subsequent risks of self-harm, suicide and other causes of premature death.’

Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Collaborative: Safety Initiatives

14 Jun

Chui Cheung photo

My name is Chui Cheung, working as a community pharmacist in Wigan, Lancashire.  I joined the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Collaborative Study with the University of Manchester in November 2015.  Looking back, it was curiosity that led to my participation and I was worried how I would handle the research projects.  Nevertheless, the title of patient safety attracted me to find out more.

Patient safety is at the centre of our everyday tasks whether we are pharmacists, technicians, dispensers, medicine counter assistants or other members of the team. Whatever we do in the course of our work, we must do it safely.

At the start of the first year project, there were 8 to 10 pharmacists with a range of different working backgrounds and age groups.  We attended a full day session every 4 to 6 weeks at the University.  We were relieved to discuss openly and share our experience on patient safety.  The aim was to build a safety case using our working environment and team resources.  My project centred on dispensing safety: ‘Are we dispensing safely?’ and later on was refined to a quantitative safety incident claim.

We were introduced to specific tools: Hierarchial Task Analysis (HTA), Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA), System Human Error Reduction & Production Approach (SHERPA) to help our analysis of the safety profile. Our team broke down the complex dispensing tasks into smaller working steps or processes systematically. On a practical application, the Proactive Risk Monitoring (PRIMO) questionnaire was helpful to use as a team to identify various patient safety risk factors.  We then made risk assessments of the dispensing processes through the SHERPA and used Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycles to evaluate improvement.

The whole team began to monitor and record near misses and dispensing incidents on a more conscious level than before and made voluntary changes towards an open, no-blame working culture. The goal of safer dispensing became a number one priority all the times.  The team’s brainstorming revealed many common triggers or events of ‘the vulnerable moment’ during the dispensing processes.  Several checking procedures were used as checker reminders.

The pooled data of errors showed high times of errors, typical error categories and even the common medicines.  Individually, we were able to find out when and how we perform best and made aware of the pitfalls.  We discovered that we were prone to errors particularly when we were ‘expected’ to have ultra-quick dispensing.  Through a member’s suggestion and our dispenser’s effort, we now display a shop poster giving a summary of ‘the way we prepare your medicines’ and give customers opportunities to read through the additional copies whenever there is a queue forming.  It works really well and the feedback is positive too.  The team and customers seem happier.

In year 2 of the project, we came across analytical tools (Faulty Tree Analysis, Bowtie diagram) to look at our safety claim.  We continued to expand our safety interests and used a more sophisticated reporting form called  ‘Incident Investigation Form’ which covers error description, the factors causing the error, the risk category, course of the event and improvement plans.   We have since modified the form for in-house use.  The bundle of safety data showed how we had been dispensing safely or otherwise.  As a result, we implemented a couple of measures (such as safety shelf reminders, Top 20 common error medicines list) to help us improve on a regular basis.  The data is also useful in staff appraisal.

Moreover, we felt fortunate to have the ready-made patient safety data for Quality Payment application.  My experience in the patient safety collaborative has been overwhelmingly good and positive.  I wouldn’t have known about these analytical methods and thought about the improvement plans if I hadn’t been part of the study group.

I recommend that any pharmacy team who is interested should come along for a taster session to see if this is right for you.

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.

Keep taking the tablets, part two – The medical practitioners side

25 Apr

by Max Scott

Part eight of the blog series ‘The desperate fight to be heard, and supported, when living with the invisible struggles of Multimorbidity’

Introduction to the blog series is here.

Max_Scott_Medication_Apr17

In part one of this blog looking at the complications of taking regular multiple medications, I described some of the problems faced by the patient, in this case, myself!  But, of course, it makes it very difficult for doctors and specialists to treat me for a specific condition when there are so many other things to be taken into account; trying to make sure that, in treating one condition, it does not aggravate another, and that any medications given to me do not interact in a negative, or at worst dangerous, way with anything else I am taking.

I make a point, before I see a specialist, either whom I have not seen before or who may need reminding, to type up a comprehensive list of all the medications I take, both regularly and intermittently, to hopefully make their task that little bit easier in knowing what they can and can’t prescribe me, mainly in terms of what drug might interact with another in any way, and the vast majority are very grateful for this (NOT ALL!), and tell me so. I like to help them to help me whenever I can, and I make this clear; I feel that is showing equal commitment.

There are a few who virtually ignore my notes, not taking into account the effort and care I put into preparing in this way. There are certain doctors that I see, who purely try to do their best for me, while realising my situation makes me a “complex” patient, and therefore they try their hardest to “tailor” my treatment so it does not compromise anything else, and I fully appreciate the difficult job they have in doing this; there are others who seem untroubled by the situation and just “get on with it” as it were, hopefully knowing that how they will treat me will have no bearing on anything else.

Then – very recently – I had the perfect example of the flip side of things, when not only does the practitioner, who I had only met on two previous occasions, not appreciate my list, but positively rolls it up and batters me around the head with it! (Not literally, but they may as well have…). My wife and I explained that my overall level of health and fatigue had, if anything, taken rather a knock since I last saw him. His reaction was to take one look at my long list of medications and say “Well, if I was on these, I wouldn’t even be able to do my job”, insinuating that my condition was caused BECAUSE I take so many tablets. A rude and belittling verbal attack from somebody who immediately dismissed my whole medical history in one uninformed and disinterested put-down.  Any medical practitioner doing their job properly by taking a genuine interest in their patient, would NEVER make such a flippant remark – each of my medications has been given to me for a reason; reasons which this person neither had the time or inclination to go into and yes – the list IS long – and so is the list of conditions they are given to me for – that is what MULTIMORBIDITY is!

But, all the while, there is no kind of ANY facility, service or specialist for, or indeed seemingly with much knowledge of, multimorbidity in my area, and more than likely many other areas of the UK; this does nobody – neither doctor or patient – any favours at all.

How can we improve safe communication and co-ordination of care between primary and secondary care?

19 Apr

Part four in the James Lind Alliance Primary Care Patient Safety Priority Setting Partnership blog series: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

by John Taylor, patient attendee of the JLA Primary Care Patient Safety PSP final workshop

JLA PSP Top 10_Number 3Question 1 for me is, have there been any high grade research papers published already on this subject? If yes, then are there meta-analyses showing useable findings, and how old are these and have the findings been overtaken by newer recommendations?

Acting as Devil’s Advocate I would ask ‘who has posed this topic’ and ‘what evidence has been the basis for it’ and ‘how reliable or high grade is the evidence?’

As a  patient with multimorbidity, I personally feel that communications and coordination of care between primary care in its broadest sense and secondary care are often multi-centred and compartmentalised by ‘treatment episodes’ only indirectly linked, and even then through less than state of the art IT systems which may or may not be multi-site interoperable, which makes communication often slow, occasionally lost in space or paper chases and definitely not entirely in the best interest of good patient care.

So, how could improvements which would benefit the whole system be researched and put into practice?

Should lessons be learned from commercial users of communication systems who successfully run large scale businesses and care for the wants and needs of customers in ways which fulfil demand and generate repeat business, i.e. satisfied end users, and also learn from systems which have failed in their purpose due to poor design or uneconomic cost over runs or just failing to understand the needs of the users. Best practice should produce the designed outcomes consistently and be adaptable to cope with new needs as they are identified and designed to do this with minimum disruption and cost, there are many Healthcare Providers who have produced local workarounds which suit the needs of patients and providers with safe communications and care, NHS England, NHS Digital or NIHR RfPB (National Institute for Health Research Research for Patient Benefit) might be the vector to investigate how these develop and how well they might scale up.

I am constantly amazed and delighted at how, for example, Amazon handle their returns communications and customer care, they will respond to a ring back request within seconds, take the details, issue a printable label, arrange pick up and confirm by email then refund or replace as soon as the item is received at their depot. If Amazon and others can do this why is it so difficult for primary, secondary and, dare I say it, social care to learn how to communicate safely, rapidly and without arguing over ownership between themselves and patients, so that information flows freely, accurately and safely through the system, benefiting patients and providers alike.

Accurate and timely information is the key to good outcomes and thus improvements need to be constantly sought and implemented, carrying on doing what we have always done is not an option.