Prudence is seen as a virtue

Prudence is a virtue except when we’ve become the third greatest killer in hospitals.

In this series of posts in under the banner ‘we’re killing our patients’, we explore why healthcare frameworks may actually be detrimental to introducing safety solutions.

In 2000, a report from the United Kingdom found that medical errors caused harm (death and injury) to in excess of 850,000 patients admitted to National Health Service Hospitals annually. This represents 10% of total admissions.

When a front line staff member discovers a patient safety hazard they may exercise prudence and keep quiet about it. The alternative is to suffer the collateral damage rendered in trying, often unsuccessfully, to remove it. This needs to change.

In making a decision not to act, you are still making a decision. Whether you like it or not you have become part of the performance that unfolds.

When a figure of authority turns to the unlucky individual who has raised their head and says ‘Well no one else has complained about it’ you have unwittingly provided the authority figure with ammunition. You have allowed the authority figure to justify his own decisions, to not bring about a change or improvement.

We all need to think clearly about our actions and inactions.

Think is what I’ve just done or not done today in the best interest of my workplace, other workplaces, my colleagues and the patients we look after.

If not then take a stand.

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