NHS Hospital "Learning from Deaths" reports: A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the first year of a countrywide patient safety programme
Introduction Potentially preventable deaths occur worldwide within healthcare organisations. Organisational learning from incidents is essential to improve quality of care. In England, inconsistencies in how NHS secondary care trusts reviewed, investigated and shared learning from deaths, resulted in the introduction of national guidance on "Learning from Deaths" (LfDs) in 2017. This guidance provides a "framework for identifying, reporting, investigating and learning from deaths" Amendments to
... aths" Amendments to NHS Quality Account regulations, legally require NHS trusts in England to report quantitative and qualitative information relating to patient deaths annually. The programme intended trusts would share this learning and take measurable action to prevent future deaths. Method We undertook qualitative and quantitative secondary data analysis of all NHS secondary care trust LfDs reports within their 2017/18 Quality Accounts, to review how organisations are using the LfDs programme to learn from and prevent, potentially preventable deaths. Results All statutory elements of LfDs reporting were reported by 98 out of 222 (44%) trusts. The percentage of deaths judged more likely than not due to problems in healthcare was between 0% and 13%. The majority of trusts (89%) reported lessons learnt; the most common learning theme was poor communication. 106 out of 222 trusts (48%) have shared or plan to share the learning within their own organisation. The majority of trusts (86%) reported actions taken and 47% discussed or had a plan for assessment of impact. 37 out of 222 trusts (17%) mentioned involvement of bereaved families. Conclusions The wide variation in reporting demonstrates that some trusts have engaged fully with LfDs, while other trusts appear to have disengaged with the programme. This may reveal a disparity in organisational learning and patient safety culture which could result in inequity for bereaved families. Many themes identified from the LfD reports have previously been identified in national and international reports and inquiries. Further work is needed to strengthen the LfDs programme.