Articles and Case Studies

Achieving Quality and Safety in Healthcare

22 Feb 2013

Medical Protection Society (MPS) convened a conference on "Quality and Safety in Healthcare: Making a Difference" on 15 and 16 November 2012. The conference, of which MDA National was a key partner, tackled a wide range of topics with the collective aim of trying to make medical practice safer.

The conference sessions addressed:

  • the patient experience and the importance of listening to patient feedback
  • achieving a culture of safety
  • disclosure and apology after adverse events
  • quality, professionalism and cost in healthcare.

The conference was truly international with more than 250 delegates from around the world, including the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

MDA National participated in a panel debate "The Rising Cost of Clinical Negligence – Is it Sustainable?" which explored the rise in negligence costs in a global context. Tony Mason, former Chief Executive Officer of MPS, reported that clinical negligence costs in the UK are now the highest anywhere in the world, except in the USA. He outlined the ways in which governments could tackle the cost of rising medical negligence claims:

  • introducing Tort Law reform which restricts the number and/or cost of claims
  • providing subsidies to doctors in private practice e.g. by taking over the claims against them
  • introducing a no-fault scheme to cover all or some (e.g. cerebral palsy) medical treatment injuries
  • having such good healthcare and welfare systems that patients feel no need to claim against their doctor.

The debate reinforced the fact that the Tort Law reforms which were introduced in Australia in 2002/2003 have brought stability to our medical indemnity industry.

Other conference sessions

eRating of Doctors

Dr Neil Bacon, the founder of the UK healthcare rating website, iWantGreatCare, described the vision of the site to collect patient experience and feedback to enable doctors, other healthcare professionals and hospitals to monitor and compare their performance. According to Dr Bacon, patient feedback is "the smoke detector of patient safety". Doctors who use iWantGreatCare can upload a personal profile to the website, including their photo, a biography and professional description. Dr Bacon suggests that doctors should encourage all their patients to leave feedback about their care on the doctor's personal profile page. An email alert is sent to the doctor when a new review is added to their page. Doctors are also encouraged to respond to postings on the website, while ensuring that patient confidentiality is not breached.

Disclosure and Apology – It's not about the money

Dr Lucian Leape, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy, Harvard School of Public Health, described how a serious preventable injury was doubly devastating for the patient. Not only does the patient suffer a physical wound (the adverse event) but they also suffer an emotional wound, involving a sense of betrayal and loss of trust in the healthcare professional. He states that a serious preventable injury to a patient is a "medical emergency" and the treatment is honest, open, full communication and, when indicated, an apology.

A summary report of the "Quality and Safety in Healthcare:Making a Difference" conference and copies of the keynote presentations can be accessed at:

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