Let me start by describing an average episode of care in 2017. John is in his mid-50’s, a smoker (average 10 cigarettes a day), drinks regularly (around 2 pints of beer or 2 medium glasses of wine on his heaviest drinking day) and does not exercise frequently. He is overweight and has a family history of heart disease. John booked an appointment with his local GP because he had been having worsening chest pains over the previous five weeks. His GP referred him to the local rapid access chest pain clinic, where he had tests such as an ECG. The tests did not show any abnormalities and John was sent back to his GP with a note asking his doctors to continue monitoring him in case his symptoms worsened. His GP received the summary but did not schedule a follow-up appointment with John because the practice was short-staffed that day. (more…)
Let me start with a personal story. I am a surgeon by training. Colleagues used to call me ‘robo-doc’ because of my interest in robotic keyhole surgery and because I helped to champion its use during a time when a surgeon’s reputation was measured by the size of his incisions. My journey into the academic study of patient safety happened naturally, aided by my interactions with patients and their carers. In fact, it was the quality of care that first drew me in.
I remember the first 24 hours after my very first keyhole surgery as if it was last week. I remember so vividly because never have I witnessed such drastic differences in patient outcomes as a result of a singular change in the way care was delivered. Almost immediately the patient was able to eat, walk without any assistance and, most importantly, with very little pain. We had dared to explore something different when the norm was not good enough. This was the start of my determination to do better. (more…)