NHS Investigation Process For Families
What can happen Anyone can be affected by an unforeseen incident in their medical care. Things do go wrong, we are all human, and doctors and nurses do not go to work each day to intentionally injure or kill anyone in their care. Except for Dr Shipman, who made it his job to do just that. When your relative has received a serious injury or death has occurred, a process should be triggered. The NHS Investigation Process For Families or Serious Incidents in health care are adverse events, where the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations are so significant or the potential for learning is so great, that a heightened level of response is justified. A serious incident requiring investigation is abbreviated too [SIRI] or serious untoward incident [SUI].
What should happen Someone identifies and decides the incident is serious enough to escalate to the serious clinical incident group [SCIG]. A meeting is conducted with varies members of trust staff including clinical and governance to decide if the incident is a SIRI. Then, according to the serious incident framework, a panel is formed by the health provider to discuss the terms of reference, who will investigate/chair and who has direct ownership of any investigation. At this point I must emphasise the experiences from this point forward, are based on my own experience after being involved with an NHS hospital trust after my daughter received anoxic hypoxic brain injury in their care.
What did happen A few days after my daughter’s incident, while she was in a coma in the Intensive Care Unit [ICU], I wandered around the hospital grounds aimlessly at random times of day and night, wishing, praying begging she would get better and wake up. I wandered into Accident and Emergency one day and asked if I could speak to someone medical as none of the ICU consultants was providing any information about my daughter’s condition. With the exception of one nurse who explained she had a fast heart rate. I knew this because that was why she had attended the hospital.
What didn’t happen No staff members from any part of the trust approached me or my family to advise of the seriousness of my daughters incident. I had to initiate direct, formal contact by approaching the staff in accident and emergency department. Staff were hastily gathered together including Dr David Hartin (DJH), Clinical Lead Emergency Department, Frances Bolger (FB), Head of Nursing and Clinical Services, Mr Duane Elmy (DE), Asst. Lead Nurse, Emergency Department and a PA from the Trust, Taking Minutes of the first part of the meeting. All of us [my family] were traumatised by what had happened to my daughter and did not understand how she had seemingly walked into the hospital a few days earlier and now she was placed in an induced coma and no longer responsive to my voice
Key Points of Learning for any Health Care Provider
Honour your duty under all circumstances to contact the family and relatives immediately after a serious incident has been identified ‘duty of candour’
Encourage a senior medically qualified member of staff to explain in laymen’s terms what has actually happened and as far as they know and led to the event(s)
Leave families and relatives wandering around in ICU without a single designated point of contact, a buddy or friend they can go to for support
Put in place a family liaison officer from the health care provider, give that person accurate information to relay to the family and relatives daily or regularly
Engage don’t ignore and avoid the patients family members, this will only lead to a feeling of ‘the closing of ranks’ and inevitable suspicion
#HelpMe simple and easy to remember, this should be embraced by all healthcare providers and adopted as a general process when things go wrong.
This post will form part of my personal experience when dealing with ‘NHS Investigation Process For Families’ every week I will add more stages and information to cover my journey and experiences dealing with a local NHS Trust.