Medical Errors May Go Unreported As Some Healthcare Workers In The UAE Fear Consequences

A 'no blame' culture gives room for lack of accountability in healthcare

Medical errors continue to happen in hospitals across the UAE because there is a dependence on human element at every process of care, and errors are bound to happen because human beings are fallible. Experts believe that medical errors are often hidden by staff, especially those lower in the professional hierarchy who are in fear of losing their jobs.

Mr Sankaranarayanan, Senior Safety Officer, Quality Assurance – Performance, Performance Innovation, Tawam Hospital, UAE, will be speaking about best practices in patient information, drug information, patient education, quality process, risk management and staff competency at the Patient Safety Exhibition & Congress taking place from 16-18 September 2014 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, UAE.

According to Mr Sankaranarayanan, “a ‘no blame’ culture gives room for lack of accountability and what we need here in the UAE is a ‘fair and just culture’ that is coupled with human behaviour. There has to be transparency in error investigation; it needs to look at behavioural patterns such human error/negligence, at -risk- and reckless behaviour. Parallel to that are system failures and human factors that need to be monitored - this is important as errors can be hidden by staff if they perceive retaliation.”

Experts believe that functions and systems must be built around people to make it difficult to commit a serious error; and facilitate doing the right thing, either by rectifying the error or reporting the incidence so action can be taken. Developing functions that will help implement a system that ensures patient safety is of paramount importance in healthcare in the UAE.

The concept of patient safety is relatively new for healthcare organisations in the Middle East and consequently there is a lack of a cohesive research agenda focused on capturing patient harm due to medical errors. In affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine, Tawam Hospital has emerged as a frontrunner for the patient safety movement in the region .

“What began as a pilot project in 2008 at Tawam has now expanded to include seven additional units. Tawam Hospital now has 10 actively functioning CUSP (Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Programme) units representing critical care, paediatrics, and general medical surgical services and recently, Obstetrics and Gynaecology services. Today, the pilot units have completed five years of CUSP implementation and six out of the seven new CUSP units have completed one year of implementation. The culture of safety is a never-ending journey,” says Mr Sankaranarayanan.