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  • 25 September 2019
  • 15 min read

World Patient Safety Day - Podcast Special

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To recognise World Patient Safety Day on Sept 17 Liam Palmer spoke with Dr Umesh Prabhu, a consultant and advocate of patient safety on how healthcare workers can take simple steps to avoid patient injury, harm and death through unsafe care.

What is this podcast about?

Early in his career Dr Umesh Prabhu, as a newly qualified consultant paediatrician made a mistake that led to a baby in his care suffering brain damage.

Deeply affected by this, he became interested in patient safety and has given hundreds of lectures on the subject and became a national advisor for the UK and General Medical Council.

He points out the three main causes of harm and the barriers to patient safety: training; infection and falls. He is keen to point out that no one comes to work in healthcare to cause harm.

Dr Umesh Prabhu - paediatric consultant, former medical director at Wigan & Leigh NHS Trust, NCAA adviser and clinical director for NHS Professionals.

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Excerpts from the podcast

“Firstly, the vast majority of time patients are harmed not because of somebody's mistake, for example pressure ulcers in the elderly. They’ve got a very delicate skin, they got lot of comorbidity and they got a lot of problems. If you don't look after their skin very well they develop pressure ulcers.

“Secondly, in Wigan each week, we used to have 30 to 40 patient with fractured neck of the femur after a fall. That is how vast majority elderly patients die eventually.

“Number three - infection. For example, elderly patient with multiple organ failure. You cannot diagnose infection early unless you’ve got a huge experience.

"In this country nearly 36,000 patients die of sepsis because delay in diagnosing their sepsis.

“So these are the reasons. It's not that somebody comes to work to do harm.”

Solutions covered

• Control MRSA

• Surgeons not keeping up with the skills and training required

• Supervision of a doctor's work (authority without accountability is the most dangerous system of leadership)

• Attitude and behaviour: if you are rude, if you are arrogant, if you don't listen to your team, then the team suffers and the patient suffers

What Do You Think?

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A learning culture

“What we've got to understand is why our doctors and nurses make mistakes and how we can help them.

“You need a learning culture. You need a supportive culture and not a culture of blame, not a culture of bullying”.

Related articles / podcasts

Listen to all podcasts by Liam

Liam's earlier chat with Dr Umesh Prabhu about the tragedies he’s dealt with in patient safety and the importance of staff happiness

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About the author

Liam Palmer is the author of 3 books on raising quality standards in care homes through developing leadership skills. In Oct 2020, he published a guide to the Home Manager role called "So You Want To Be A Care Home Manager?". Liam has been fortunate to work as a Senior Manager across many healthcare brands including a private hospital, a retirement village and medium to large Care Homes in the private sector and 3rd sector. He hosts a podcast "Care Quality - meet the leaders and innovators”.

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