Helping Ourselves Part 2
The second big concerned raised by respondents in the “Time for Change” survey was a lack of support from when things do wrong. Things will go wrong from time to time, it is inevitable, and it is important that there is a supportive environment to understand why things went wrong and what can be done to stop the same thing happening again.
In previous posts, When Things Go Wrong and Mindfulness in Clinical Governance I have looked at the importance of a developing a non-judgement approach and a “no-blame” culture. These create a safe environment to look at issues in a reflective manner.
This process is vital for veterinary practice to develop. We must look at how we can improve the quality of service that we deliver to our clients for their pets. I would encourage the profession to ensure that a robust Quality Improvement programme is in place in all practices, there is plenty of information on the RCVS Knowledge website which can be used and adapted for individual practice use.
Members of the profession will benefit by feeling able to talk about mistakes and cases where there has been an unexpected outcome. If we continue to feel that we need to be perfect or that we cannot talk about problems we become more stressed, we put more pressure on ourselves by setting unrealistic expectations, we become more anxious about making a mistake and our ability to practice effectively suffers.
Practices will benefit by ensuring that treatments and recommendations are effective, and when they are not steps can be implemented to improve. With regular discussions areas of weakness and strength can be identified in all members of the team. Areas of strength can be shared and areas of weakness can be strengthened through mentoring and CPD.
Our clients and patients will benefit through the practice of Quality Improvement as our clinical skills will develop.
By adopting the process of Quality Improvement we will show our clients that we take their concerns seriously and that we are proactive in taking steps to improve the level of service that we offer. This also has the potential of improving the trust between the public and the profession.
It may require something of a culture change in many practices to embrace the idea the mistakes can happen and it is important to discuss them, but it is only by allowing free discussion and accepting that it may be necessary to change existing protocols and adapt to new information and circumstances that we can develop.