No one else has complained about it

In this series of posts under the banner we explore why clinical error remains the third greatest killer in our hospitals.

When you present a clinical hazard you may receive this comment in reply:

‘No one else has complained about it’

There are two sides to this:

1. Few may have actually made a complaint about the issue.
Does this mean that there isn’t a problem or is something else going on?
– The people holding the cards to fix the problems often hold the cards to our careers.
– The less we criticise and just get on with it the better we believe we are at our job.
– Nothing effective will ever be done to fix the problem (learned helplessness).
– We don’t know enough about human factors.
– We’ve been surrounded by latent errors and have just got on with it for so long.
– We are too time poor to see a problem through to its resolution.
– We hope/believe that someone else will fix the problem (diffusion of responsibility).
– Prudence is seen as a virtue.
– To agitate against a system leaves staff feeling disloyal to those in charge of the system. Perhaps staff are prepared to forego the best work environment and care for their patients in order to maintain their loyalty.

2. The comment serves the person who has made it well.
It may
– Marginalise you from those who ‘haven’t complained about it’.
– Attack you and make you question why you ever complained in the first place – ‘is there something wrong with you?”are your skills insufficient to deal with problem?’
– Divert your energy away from the issue being addressed.
Perhaps they are upset that they haven’t already done something to fix the problem themselves.

No one likes change however great, necessary and obvious you think it might be. Everyone takes comfort in the status quo, and few will ever support you taking them into the unknown.

We listen. We believe you. We are with you.

We know that front line staff are often best placed to recognise workplace hazards. We know they’re placed to work out the best solutions.

The road to adapting your workplace to become safer, however good and just you believe it to be, is going to be incredibly hard. Persevere, and when times are tough communicate with us – we will back you all the way.

We need to create a healthcare culture where frontline staff enthusiastically present their workplace hazards and solutions knowing that something positive will come from it.

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