In hospital, too, prevention is better than cure
In her PhD research, Martie van Beuzekom sheds light on the possibilities for improving the safety of patients in operating theatres and intensive care units. PhD defence 2 October.
Errors don’t just happen; they arise within the context of the work environment. This environment involves a number of risk factors that are not immediately obvious, but that could lead to errors. These factors are referred to as latent risk factors (LRFs). Examples of such LRFs are personnel, communication, planning & co-ordination, hygiene and procedures.
In order to optimise patient safety, it is important to gain insight into the likelihood of errors and incidents occurring. Insight into the underlying causes of a lack of safety means that specific measures can be taken to improve safety on a structural basis. Improving these underlying factors is more effective than improvements aimed at the direct causes of errors. Many errors are committed in operating theatres and intensive care units. It is therefore important to develop a method which would provide insight into the factors leading to errors, before a patient has to suffer the consequent damage.
In her dissertation, Van Beuzekom shows that the staff members of anaesthesiology departments, operating theatres and intensive care units are able to recognise these risks, although they differ with regard to how much value they attribute to them. Adverse latent risk factors can cause stress on the work-floor and negatively impact the wellbeing of the staff. The key to a healthy workplace is successful management of the shortcomings in the structure of the work environment.
Every contribution to improved patient safety in operating theatres and intensive care units is important. Van Beuzekom developed the Leiden Operating Theatre Intensive Care Questionnaire, which may prove to be a useful tool in this context. On the basis of this questionnaire, it is possible to identify the risk factors beforehand and to take measures to prevent the circumstances in which errors can easily occur. Taking action with respect to LRFs can therefore make a real contribution to patient safety in hospitals.
M. van Beuzekom
Latent Risk Factors in Operating Theatres and Intensive Care Units
Tuesday 2 October 2012, 16:15 hrs
Venue: Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden
Supervisor: Professor A. Dahan
(2 October 2012)
- Health, life and bioscience is one of the six themes of research at Leiden University