Patient safety is the prevention of errors and adverse events to
patients and should be at the heart of all decisions made in health care
settings. However, the World Health Organisation suggest that 134
million adverse events take place each year, of which 80% are avoidable.
aim of patient safety is to reduce the number of avoidable adverse
events suffered by patients. At Burnetts, our Medical Negligence team
assist clients who have suffered adverse events in clinical settings,
many of whom come to us with the main aim of ensuring that what happened
to them does not happen to anyone else. Accountability through clinical
negligence claims is one of many ways patient safety can be promoted.
It is hoped that when a clinical negligence claim is brought, the
Defendant organisation will learn from the incident and take steps to
minimise the risk of it being repeated. However, clinical negligence
claims depend upon the patient being aware that the adverse event was
avoidable and choosing to take legal action.
There are many
initiatives within the NHS such as standardising and collaborating on
best practice, which have at their heart improvements in patient safety.
However, in order for patient safety to be maximised, it is critical
that staff working within the NHS feel able to report incidents they are
involved in without the fear of blame and recriminations and to be able
to raise concerns about other professionals in a supportive
An essential component of patient safety is therefore
the “Duty of Candour” which essentially requires that there is
transparency and openness with regard to adverse events, with patients
being informed, offered appropriate remedies and given apologies. The
duty of candour covers all NHS Trusts and care providers registered with
the CQC. The General Medical Counsel imposes an ethical duty of candour
on all doctors and the Nursing and Midwifery Council imposes a
professional duty of candour.
Patient safety initiatives will
never be able to flourish where there is a culture dominated by
cover-ups and defensiveness. Sadly, we frequently see examples of
attempts to deflect attention away from incidents. Most recently,
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust have been
under scrutiny following the publication of their former consultant
urologist, Peter Duffy’s book, in which he describes being forced out of
his job after raising a series of patient safety concerns. It is now
likely that there will be an external review of the allegations, which
echoes a similar review carried out of the same Trust by Dr Bill Kirkup
with regard to the standard of care provided in the Maternity
Department. That report identified a series of failings in care which
were compounded by a failure by the Trust to investigate and learn
lessons from them.
It is hoped that this Patient Safety Day,
awareness will be raised of the importance of openness and
accountability in the healthcare setting with a focus on learning from
mistakes and putting the patient at the heart of all decisions.
How Burnetts Can Help
have specialist medical negligence solicitors, who are accredited by
The Law Society and AvMA, who can investigate your claim and help secure
We have access to specialist medical experts and
barristers who can advise in your case and will aim to obtain
compensation for you as quickly as possible. Where someone has sadly
died, Burnetts also have expertise in dealing with claims on behalf of
the estate of the deceased. If the claim is on behalf of a protected
party then our Court of Protection team will also be on hand to assist
with the administration of compensation and navigating you through the
Our lawyers are also experienced at representing families at Inquests relating to patient deaths.
you would like to speak to someone within our team to discuss whether
you may have a clinical negligence claim then please contact our offices
on 01228 552222.