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i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w . i n t l . e l s e v i e r h e a l t h . c o m / j o u r n a l s / i j m i Incident reporting schemes and the need for a good story
J. Rooksby , R.M. Gerry , A.F. Smith
a Computing Department, Lancaster University, UKb Department of Work, Organisation and Technology, Lancaster University, UKc Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, UK Incident reporting is a central strategy for improving safety in the NHS (UK National Health Service). In this paper we discuss incident reporting in anaesthesia. We discuss four schemes for reporting: longstanding, departmental based schemes; newer, hospital wide schemes; a national scheme; and an inter-departmental scheme (developed by the authors). We also discuss an example report. We argue that this example report gives an expert ‘story’ of an incident, describing the incident in a way that is useful for the practical activities of maintaining and improving safety. We argue that stories are told and retold in reporting schemes. The reporting schemes are not just there to collect data but to afford the stories of what went wrong. In turn these schemes must be afforded stories by the anaesthetists, safety managers and the organisation at large. We consider how schemes can be designed to afford a ‘good’ story, one that is useful for the maintaining and improvement of safety.
2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Disasters such as a patient death are extreme examples of an incident and although lessons should be learned from Incident reporting is a core requirement for NHS (UK National these, the ethos of a reporting scheme is to pick up the little Health Service) organisations in efforts to improve patient incidents such as dysfunctional equipment, unmanageable safety. Incident reporting schemes are socio-technical sys- situations, and (often harmless) mistakes, and to address tems and every such scheme is different in implementation these so as to circumnavigate disasters In the aviation and use. In their comprehensive review of the literature sur- industry (the first industry to adopt incident reporting), rounding technology related adverse events in healthcare, eom British Airways shows a correlation between Balka et al. to the differences between incident report- high levels of incident reporting with reduced levels of high ing schemes, particularly the lack of definition regarding the and medium risk events that actually occur. Disasters, or inci- scope and nature of adverse events, as the major barrier to dents involving patient distress or harm are usually caused extrapolating meaningful data from them at a national or by a combination of smaller issues, have early warning signs international level. They recognise the potential benefits of or involve repetitions of mistakes or issues that have arisen large-scale analysis of incident data, but point out that in before Incidents are systems issues, not a chain of doing so the situatedness of medical practices can be over- events resulting from a failure and leading to an incident.
looked and incidents wrongly conceptualised as device or user Non-systems models are limited in their ability to account problems. Balka et al. suggest “new forms of governance may for the incident and support the improvement of safety be required, that place greater emphasis on socio-technical Reporting schemes are soft systems. They are practical approaches to improving safety in the day to day practices of ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1524 510348.
1 Reported by the National Patient Safety Agency 1386-5056/$ – see front matter 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 work in healthcare that are themselves soft. We understand sites and the launch of the NPSA (National Patient Safety incident reports, not as mirrors of what went wrong, but as Agency) national system. An iterative, multi-round approach constructions that make active sense in the practicalities of was taken to gain a picture of incident reporting schemes improving safety. This construction we say is a ‘story’, and as they unfolded and to involve the anaesthetists closely in we say a reporting scheme is for the telling and re-telling the design of the prototype, which was designed to suit their of stories to improve safety. We are particularly interested requirements. This work has taken place in the context of a in how information technologies (including both paper and much wider study (by the second author) into clinical gov- computer) support reporting schemes and how these can be ernance in the NHS, including of incident reporting in other better designed and organised. From an IT design perspective we look at how incident reporting schemes afford and areafforded stories.
What is an incident?
An insightful definition given to us by one anaesthetist is Incident reporting in anaesthesia
of an incident as an “‘Oh S***!’ moment”. The official defini-tion from the NPSA (National Patient Safety Agency) is “Any Incident reporting in the NHS is usually seen as a hospi- unintended or unexpected incident which could have or did tal wide, if not national issue. As such, incident reporting harm one or more patients receiving NHS funded healthcare.” schemes being implemented are hospital wide and national.
To apply such definitions in practice is subjective. When We acknowledge that large-scale analysis of incident data there has been actual harm to a patient, then events sur- would be extremely beneficial to the improvement of safety, rounding that harm can normally be thought of as an inci- but our work has not been driven by that goal. In this paper we dent, although there may be exceptions to this, for exam- look directly at incident reporting in anaesthesia, at the issues ple a patient or a surgeon may perceive harm (such as dis- that anaesthetists face in reporting and how their reports are tress) where the anaesthetist does not. It is when there is used in the small scale to maintain and improve everyday potential for harm that the answer to what is an incident safety. We treat incident reporting qualitatively; as Short et becomes more subjective. Some anaesthetists will see poten- al. out, incident reporting schemes themselves are a tial for harm where others do not, and some are more will- form of qualitative research. We are interested in the practi- ing to write a report. Writing a report is time consuming cal aspects of reporting and learning from reports, and thus a for a busy anaesthetist. There are some anaesthetists who focus on the work of clinicians rather than that of their man- might never report and others who are quite keen. Reports agers and administrators is desirable.
by the keen include issues well beyond personal mistakes, for Anaesthesia is the largest single hospital specialty in example we saw reports concerning incorrect defaults set on the NHS, with anaesthetists seeing around two thirds of all admitted patients. Incident reporting has become a con- There are also sensitive and controversial issues in report- tentious issue in anaesthesia. There has been a longstanding ing. Someone other than those involved in an incident can tradition of incident reporting in anaesthesia (it being the first write reports. Anaesthetists have referred to the possibilities profession in healthcare to introduce incident reporting) and for victimisation, but state the opposite is usually true where attempts to impose new schemes have been disruptive. The anaesthetists are unwilling to write reports about a colleague older schemes were owned and organised by anaesthetists.
whose practices may be unsafe. Anaesthetists were indig- Newer schemes have a managerial and legal emphasis and nant that reports in the new hospital wide systems can be are intended to be standard across hospital departments. By written by anyone and referred to reports written by nurses taking incident reporting in anaesthesia as our standpoint and in one case by a cleaner. They felt these others did not we are looking to the expertise and experience anaesthetists understand their work and what is safe practice. A more common issue is that some anaesthetists will ‘axe grind’against equipment they would like replaced, or write reports 2.1.
that in some way might enable them to gain new funds orequipment.
This paper is based on findings made in a study of incident We have addressed when an incident is perceived, but reporting in anaesthesia and the production of a prototype we should also address how an incident is perceived. The system to share reports between anaesthetics departments in author of a report must describe what lead to an incident different hospitals in the Northwest region of and how it was handled, and describe what lessons might be project involved three rounds of semi-structured interviews at learned. Anaesthetists prefer a systems view of incidents, and five hospitals about incident reporting, a validation workshop this view is one echoed by the NPSA. Anaesthesia employs for the system and observations of an anaesthetist at work both applied and tacit knowledge incidents are not and of audit meetings at two anaesthetics departments. The simply misapplications or non-applications of knowledge but prototype system was in use over 6 months. The period of breakdowns in the tacit “patient-machine-anaesthetist col- study coincided with the implementation of CNST (Clinical lective” We can see such systems thinking in the Negligence Schemes for Trusts) standard reporting at several example report that is given later. This systems thinking isnot shared by all: anaesthetists complain that reports can beused (by managers) to blame ‘the last person who touched the i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 2.3.
What is a reporting scheme?
ics department, but all that we have seen retain lightweightclassification and one half to one third of the form is for free Reporting involves particular information technologies such text. These forms will be placed in easily accessible locations.
as paper, databases, PowerPoint slides, spreadsheets, pens Completed reports are posted into a box to be collected later and mailboxes; they involve human actions such as writing by an anaesthetist acting as audit manager. These reports reports, analysing and discussing reports and summarising are sometimes furthered analysed: at one site the audit man- reports; there are guidelines and rules; and there are organi- ager further categorised reports and entered these categories sational provisions for reporting and an organisational culture into a spreadsheet, at another a key phrase about the inci- in which reporting takes place. The reporting scheme is the dent was listed. Reports would be discussed at audit meetings, organisation of many parts and processes. A useful reporting often having the author of the report recounting what hap- scheme will be organised in a way that promotes safety, but pened (and not necessarily reading from the incident form).
not all reporting schemes can be said to be as useful as is pos- The anaesthetists would discuss the issues raised by the inci- sible in this way. In this paper we give an example report, but dent and if necessary plan further actions to resolve these.
we emphasise that it is part of a wider process in which an Reports may then also be re-written as a narrative summary incident is interpreted and reinterpreted and perhaps acted in the minutes of that meeting. Paper is a convenient medium for anaesthetists to initially report on, and reports are often A reporting scheme is more than the technologies of report- later typed up in some way. The RCoA provide software for ing, and is not about making factual accounts that mirror reporting, but it is difficult to use and modify.
incidents. There is not a direct correspondence between an As described, the departmental schemes are successful but incident and a report: the report is a subjective account of the imperfect. They are successful in that they are routinely used incident, and in turn the report is never static. The incident and they have a noticeable effect on patient safety in that is told and re-told through reports, through analysis and cat- anaesthetists are able to determine their own problems and egorisation and through discussions in meetings. Actions to go about solving them. However the system does not allow maintain or improve safety come after analysis and discus- the solving of problems that lie externally to the department sion, but as we will explain with an example report, the main- and relies on this problem being communicated to a person tenance of safety often comes about directly through having or system that may or may not exist. The system is also open a discussion and thus learning and reinforcing knowledge.
to abuse in terms of not reporting, or over reporting. Anaes- There are three schemes that we have encountered in our thetists also find it time consuming to run.
study, and we discuss these together with a fourth schemethat we have introduced ourselves as an experiment. During our study we found each department to have slightly different The second scheme we describe, we term the hospital wide implementations of the schemes, but rather than concentrate scheme. This scheme is being introduced to all departments on these differences we shall address the similarities between studied. This scheme was initiated by requirements from the schemes as implemented. At the beginning of our study, each department was running schemes in parallel. At each site The hospital wide schemes are run across all hospital the older schemes were being phased out. This was completed departments. Often a large paper form is required to be filled by the end of the study at one site, but only after a series of in, but in others a computerised form. These forms ask for troubles with the first attempt aborted. We now describe the detailed information and are reliant on categorisation. Ability four reporting schemes. Following this we will discuss a spe- to enter free text is limited: one form asks “please describe what happened in detail” but offers a relatively small spacein which to do so; another gives a larger space but asks for “clear, one sentence ‘good’ and ‘bad’ facts”. Two carbon copies The first scheme we describe, we term the departmental are made with each paper form, with at least two of the three scheme. The departmental scheme is the oldest scheme, and total copies going to managers. Anaesthetists were generally was used at each anaesthesia department in the study. This reluctant to use the hospital wide systems. Anaesthetists are scheme is quite longstanding, and was running in parallel to required to write reports on the hospital wide system, but the second scheme we describe at each study site and is/was found more value in the departmental system and tended to use them both in parallel. At one site anaesthetists had regu- The departmental reporting schemes are based on recom- lar meetings with the clinical risk manager to discuss hospital mendations by the RCoA (Royal College of Anaesthetists) who wide reports but at others they received little or no feedback.
provide a standard paper form, and software for reporting. The Anaesthetists would use the external system only when they paper form is printed on one side of paper with a list of cate- had to, believing their reports to be interpreted negatively and gories of contributing factors on the reverse. The form asks for used to blame them. One anaesthetist claimed that anyone five short items of information (e.g. reporter’s name), has four writing a lot of reports would be seen as unsafe, and their job multiple-choice questions about the incident (e.g. severity), and allows up to six categories to be chosen from the reverse.
At the site most advanced in its implementation, the exter- Just under half of the front page allows free text to be entered nal scheme was fully realised by the end of the study. This under the headings: “Please describe what happened” and was only after an aborted first attempt and a great number “How do you think this might be prevented from happening of difficulties, as an anaesthetist from the site explains: “The again?” The form is often modified for use by an anaesthet- Trust introduced their own scheme and banned use of the i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 existing (departmental) system. The new forms were badly tain educational value and that it affords trust within the user designed and we had little or no feedback. Rates of report- community. To integrate with existing practices, and exist- ing fell to about 10% of what they were previously. After much ing reporting schemes, it was seen as inappropriate to expect protesting, the Trust system was dropped and the (departmen- primary reporting to be done on the new system, but rather tal) system restarted for 3 or 4 months. Six months ago an that reports could later be typed up or cut and pasted into improved Trust system was implemented and this has been it, perhaps after presentation and discussion at a meeting. It working well for the last 4–5 months. They use forms we recog- was also noted that web and email use by anaesthetists was nise and there is now a feedback loop, whereby reports are occasional, so a lightweight notice board rather than a discus- discussed at audit meetings and then emailed to all the clin- sion forum was the most suitable style of presenting reports.
ical staff. There is now also a full time audit manager in the The system was in no way intended to replace the existing Trust. Managing audits was taking about 3 h a week of my time, systems, but to complement them. To maintain educational which was too much. I have retained a role in coordinating value, we provided a means for anaesthetists to report what audits but the manager has taken over most of the work”.
they thought was useful, and a means to discuss reports online The external schemes have their strengths in that they or download them for discussion in meetings. To maintain allow a hospital wide approach to safety, and they use full time trust we allowed anonymous reporting, and provided a fea- managers rather than taking up time of clinicians. However, ture to show exactly who had access to the system. The system these schemes have in several cases been badly implemented was basically a secondary reporting scheme in which reports and run more so because clinicians are required to report than deemed as interesting by an audit manager can be cut and they see value in it. Schemes of this kind are viable, and anaes- pasted in, and were then available for reading and comment by thetists are not against the idea of a hospital wide scheme in a known group of users. Anaesthetists participating in design principle. The problems of the schemes are associated with agreed upon a reporting form similar, but more lightweight, a disregard for the needs of anaesthetists in their day-to-day working practices, and their concerns for control and profes- This system has served as a means of gathering data and sional status in their work. The site described above has shown testing hypotheses. Anaesthetists told us that they liked the that these schemes can be made to work well.
system, and that it contained reports useful to them. However,the system did not live beyond the project. As one anaesthetist explained “Falling in love is easy but staying in love is the The NPSA (National Patient Safety Agency) was set up in problem, and I think that’s true about starting off and trying 2001 to improve the safety of patients by promoting a culture to keep going. . . Its one of those things everyone thinks they of reporting and learning from patient safety. The National ought to do [but it] never quite seems to happen.” There are Learning and Reporting System is central to their strategy several reasons that could all account in some way for why the with the intention of using it to identify trends and patterns system was not adopted by the anaesthetists. These reasons of avoidable incidents and their root causes; develop mod- being that the system failed to gain a champion to encour- els of good practice and solutions; to provide feedback and to age reporting, that the level of ‘useful’ reports did not reach a support education and learning. The NPSA also provide train- critical mass, that the anaesthetists spent limited time with ing in root cause analysis to investigate incidents. As well as computers and that the uncertainties and problems surround- providing the system and training they also promote steps ing the other reporting schemes meant anaesthetists were towards improved safety building a safety cul- reluctant to report into any system. The anaesthetist quoted ture, communicating and learning lessons. They see errors as above went on to state “I think it’s a missed opportunity”. The having a system of causes, and oppose a blame and punish- anaesthetists involved in the study believed that reports could ment culture. They encourage a circle of safety that begins be usefully shared, and the design of our system for doing so with reporting, goes through the management of the safety The National Reporting and Learning System was rolled out 2.4.
An example report
during 2004. The system was not in use at any study site dur-ing our fieldwork. The anaesthetists at each study site were Incident reports in anaesthesia can be made in up to four dif- well aware of the NPSA but did not know anything specific ferent systems, with reports usually being duplicated. This about what the NPSA might start doing at the national level can be wasteful, but because of the different purposes and and when. We largely agree with the NPSA’s portrayal of inci- uses of each system, straightforward integration is not pos- dents but, at the local level, they seem to lack the power of sible. British Airways uses two reporting systems, but this is the insurers who have their own requirements for incident by design and is used to handle more sensitive ‘human fac- tors’ separately from other issues t remains as a futurestudy to compare reports of the same incident in the differ- Reporting scheme 4: inter departmental ent systems described in this paper, but it is likely that while Reports that are discussed in one anaesthetics department are the ‘facts’ remain the same the meaning and significance is not usually shared with anaesthetists in different hospitals.
changed. It is a difficult task to collect different reports of Seeing value in a system to do this, we produced an online the same incident, and for the time being we have gathered reporting system designing it around four main require- unconnected reports made on all systems except the national.
ments: that it should integrate with existing practice, that it In this paper we will present one report, taken with permis- should integrate with existing reporting schemes, that it main- sion by the author from the inter-departmental system. We i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 have interviewed the author of the report about the meetings how to deal with the error. The first two lessons involve the in which it was discussed, and the processes that it triggered.
importance of the appearance of syringes for distinguishing The report concerns a serious incident that involved a mis- between different drugs. The third lesson is that in unusual take in administering drugs that lead to patient harm. This circumstances the anaesthetist must be extra vigilant. The report is less mundane than some, although fairly typical.
first two lessons are relevant to procedure and are therefore Most interviewees cited it as the most interesting report on relevant to the management of safety. The process here can be improved to improve safety. The third lesson is one of edu-cation for anaesthetists.
This was a serious incident that led to a patient com- plaint. The anaesthetist involved was at the only hospital in our study where anaesthetists had a good relationship with the risk managers and the anaesthetist in question told us they did not feel blamed for the error in any way. An inves- The incident caused: 3: Transient abnormality with full tigation had been launched following the reporting of this incident in the hospital wide system, and changes to proce- How preventable do you think the incident would be by fur- dures and visual information were apparently being consid- ther resource? 1: Probably within current resource ered. The report of this incident in the departmental system lead to discussion of how anaesthetists can avoid this kind The patient was for direct pharyngoscopy, a short but stimu- of mistake, including how the system might be improved, lating procedure so the plan was to use boluses of alfentanil but also sharing the lesson about vigilance. There was also and mivacurium. Both these drugs were in correctly labelled discussion of this report on the inter-departmental system, 10 ml syringes. Inadvertently I gave the mivavurium prior to saying that similar problems had occurred at other sites.
induction instead of alfentanil. I did not realise my error for The report then does not simply disclose an error or mis- a few minutes. The patient initially appeared drowsy but agi- take, but provides a story that can be discussed, interpreted tated, breathing became shallow and saturation dropped to and acted upon. An important part of maintaining safety 85%. He developed multple VEs. On realising my error some is through actual discussion of the report, educating anaes- propofol was given, the trachea intubated and over a short thetists about how the issues affect their day to day working period of time his saturation and ECG returned to normal.
We continued with the procedure. On recovery he had recallof what had happened and was quite distressed by it.
Discussion—the need for a good story
To conclude this paper we consider design issues for reporting 1. Correctly labelling syringes isnt enough, especially when schemes. Our argument is that a report is not about hav- the colour of the labels is very similar. In this case both ing data but about allowing an anaesthetist to discuss and the labels that come with the drug are white. We use consider what happened and what lessons can be learned.
other visual aids first, syringe size probably being the most Reporting, we believe, can be likened to storytelling. We will consider the report as a story and then consider how exist- 2. Avoid drawing up muscle relaxants and induction agents ing reporting schemes afford these stories and how they do or in similar size syringes at the same time as other drugs, ie can better afford good stories for maintaining and improving sux and fentanyl, thiopentone and augmentin.
3. In this case the part the cause for the error was that I was using a number of drugs that I dont usually use - thats when 3.1.
The report as a story
Berg the medical record as an active mediator The report begins with some standard information. This in care rather than a mirror of what happened; Similarly, the gives the reader an orientation to the report and provides incident report does not give the raw facts about an incident standard terms for storing and analysing the report. A more but recreates the events and existents (the things), and gives surprising reason that anaesthetists gave for wanting this evaluation and opinion in a way that is meaningful to the standard information was that when writing reports, it gives maintenance and improvement of safety. To aid discussion them somewhere to start, and allows them to start thinking of this issue, we consider incident reporting as storytelling.
Previously, Rooksby and Kay ve looked at how work is The first paragraph gives the story of what went wrong. The retold in radiology reports in an idealistic, but more mean- scene is set with the surgical procedure and the anaesthetics ingful way for further work. We do not use the term story procedure, with a statement that the procedure began with the to somehow diminish the truthfulness or expertise that goes correct drugs. The events are then given, beginning with the into reporting in medicine, but take it as a concept that brings complicating error and ending with the two part resolution: with it particular analytic possibilities. Storytelling has been firstly about how the ECG was returned to normal and secondly found to be a particular way that experts form and com- municate information, for example engineers use stories to The second paragraph concerns the lessons learned. The three lessons concern the procedure of using drugs, and not systems designers in health use stories to discuss success i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f m e d i c a l i n f o r m a t i c s 7 6 S ( 2 0 0 7 ) S205–S211 and failure of systems scientists in the Life Sciences Anaesthetists do their best to write meaningful content, and use stories to communicate between themselves time and labour is involved in the writing, re-writing and pre- records in primary care have also been discussed as stories By considering the incident report as a story we donot consider it to be fiction. We do consider it as being some- 3.3.
The affordance of a good story
thing told within a certain context and concerns and to be aexpert construction of information to suit the improvement of We believe that all reporting schemes involve storytelling in some way and that it is not adequate simply to have or recog- The incident report, we have said in this paper, is only one nise stories. Any inherent ‘storyness’ is not of interest, as Kelly telling of the story that is told and retold. Reports are usually et al. but rather the practices of storytelling: of hand written (possibly in two systems), possibly then typed up, building knowledge and making it repeatable and sharable. We usually recounted and discussed in meetings, and sometimes consider that schemes might afford a ‘good’ story for main- re-told in the minutes of meetings. To look at how documents taining and improving safety. The departmental scheme we are understood and acted upon we must consider both their say affords a good story because the mechanism and organi- contents and manifestation here we look at con- sation of the scheme suit and allow the processes of safety.
tents of a report and consider the different manifestations by The paper forms allow anaesthetists to write reports, the which the story is delivered (being pen and paper, network arrangement of the form itself is in a way anaesthetists find computer, PowerPoint, speech, etc). These different manifes- useful, and the trust within anaesthetics departments allows tations are directly related to the practical needs and activities anaesthetists to write reports without fear of inappropriate of maintaining and improving safety. Implied by storytelling reprisals. The inter-departmental system was designed to is that there is a teller of the story, and hopefully there is an replicate these strengths in affording a good story, but failed to audience to interpret it. We have then a simple framework by persuade anaesthetists to afford it a story. In the worst cases, which we can talk about the report as a story: content, mani- the hospital wide systems did not afford such a good story: festation, telling and interpreting.
the contents afforded by the forms was not seen as appropri-ate; the materials were not appropriate at some sites as they 3.2.
The affordance of a story
required computer entry; anaesthetists were in most casesdiscouraged from writing reports because of the blame cul- As a study of the practical undertaking of work rather than of ture, and little perceived benefit; the interpretation of reports isolated interactions with technology, incompatibilities with was often not possible for anaesthetists who were not given the findings from the field of Human Computer Interac- access to them, and any interpretation by managers that did tion are inevitable We use the term ‘affordance’ here, as it is used in HCI, to allow discussion of how a designallows and encourages certain actions, but by taking a sys-tems view we are in some senses abusing the concept We use the term affordance to describe how particular tech-nologies, working practices and organisational procedures are Incident reporting schemes reflect and enable the practical aligned to allow a story. We use it to understand how the concerns of improving and maintaining safety, and can use- soft and long-term problem of safety is addressed, and we fully be seen as a way of telling stories. These stories must say that technologies must both afford and be afforded a be afforded by the scheme, and also be afforded by those involved. We say that the structure of a report, plus the mate- We cannot discuss the national scheme here, which we did rials by which reports can be made and remade must afford a not see in action, but we say the other three schemes all afford (good) story. Anaesthetists, their managers, and the organisa- a story. In the next section we consider whether they actually tion at large, must likewise afford (good) stories to the scheme.
afford a ‘good’ story. The content of a report is afforded by What counts as a good story is dependent upon the context of an input form in each scheme. The departmental and inter- its writing and use. We acknowledge that attempts in the NHS departmental schemes placed an emphasis on free text. A to collect and analyse incident information on a more coher- story however need not be in free text, and we believe that ent and widespread basis hold the potential to significantly a story is also told in the hospital wide forms, although per- increase safety; our argument is not against such attempts haps not the story as the anaesthetist might wish to tell it.
but is to state that reporting at its basic level is not the collec- The manifestations of reporting were paper, electronic and tion of data but the telling and retelling of stories. Reporting speech. Reports were afforded by placing paper forms in oper- schemes at the departmental level in anaesthesia have been ating theatres which were both useful and accessible, and then successful and we believe the lessons from these should be the electronic versions that were useful for distribution and discussion were afforded by having someone type them up.
Talk about reports was afforded by having meetings, or on theinter-departmental system by an online notice board. Inter- Acknowledgements
preting of reports could be done by audit and risk managers byreading reports and others by attending meetings. The mech- Prof. Ian Sommerville provided valuable contributions to this anism does not determine the reporting scheme and we must paper. We are very grateful to the anaesthetists involved in consider that the scheme affords as well as is afforded a story.
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