A photograph of an aeroplane in flight. As we consider whether air crash investigation techniques might help reduce patient safety mistakes in healthcare.

Can Patient Safety Mistakes be Reduced with Help from the Aviation Industry?

NHS staff are to be given training similar to what an air accident investigator might receive. The course starts on Monday and aims to help NHS staff investigate and learn from patient safety mistakes.

A Foundation in Healthcare Incident Investigation

The course, organised by Baby Lifeline and Cranfield University, is based on an incident simulation. Attendees will learn everything from how to gather evidence to correct interview technique; the course will involve practical exercises to teach these skills.

Although the course design is particularly relevant for NHS staff working in a maternity setting, the methods will be applicable to all types of healthcare incident investigation.

Course delegates will earn a Continuous Personal Development (CPD) certificate in ‘Foundation in Healthcare Incident Investigation‘.

Why this course is important

The NHS recognise the importance of being able to investigate and learn from their mistakes. But all too often, the NHS’s ability to do this effectively has been called into question.

Without a doubt, huge leaps have been made in recent years. But that doesn’t mean that more can’t be done. Only last year, we asked whether a culture problem in the NHS might be leading to a lack of transparency, after the NHS hit the headlines on a number of occasions.

Initiatives like this are a fantastic opportunity to inject new knowledge and skills which can help further improvements.

For too long, it feels as if speaking about mistakes has been a taboo subject. Almost as if pretending they don’t happen, will mean they won’t. But we know that this is not only not true, but the opposite is true. And although the tide has began to turn, it will not continue on it’s own.

The organisers of the course should be applauded for their innovative, but logical approach. Applying the skills of some of the best investigators, from outside the field of healthcare, is a fantastic way to improve investigations within healthcare.

About the organisers

Baby Lifeline promote the safe care of pregnant women and newborn babies. They do this by working with and supporting the NHS in a number of ways. As well as developing and providing training, they have purchased equipment and conducted research.

Their partner, in this instance, Cranfield University, have an excellent reputation across the world. They have more than 40 years of experience training incident investigators in many safety critical fields. They were even awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, for research and training in relation to aircraft accident investigation (an industry renowned for its robust investigations).

The future is bright

After a bleak 2020, the fact that charities are organsising and arranging innovative training is inspiring. And for the NHS, it’s good to know that that there are still ways to improve, so patient safety mistakes can be reduced.

Let’s hope that 2021 can mark the start of a new era. One in which mistakes are no longer a taboo, so that the investigations which follow them can be productive.

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