Learning from high risk industries may not be straightforward: a qualitative study of the hierarchy of risk controls approach in healthcare.
International journal for quality in health care : journal of the International Society for Quality in Health Care
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Liberati, E., Peerally, M. F., & Dixon-Woods, M. (2018). Learning from high risk industries may not be straightforward: a qualitative study of the hierarchy of risk controls approach in healthcare.. International journal for quality in health care : journal of the International Society for Quality in Health Care, 30 (1), 39-43. https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzx163
Objective: Though healthcare is often exhorted to learn from “high reliability” industries, adopting tools and techniques from those sectors may not be straightforward. We sought to examine the hierarchies of risk controls (HoC) approach, used in high-risk industries to rank interventions according to supposed effectiveness in reducing risk, and widely advocated as appropriate for healthcare. Design: Classification of risk controls proposed by clinical teams following proactive detection of hazards in their clinical systems. Classification was based on a widely-used hierarchy of controls developed by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Setting and participants: A range of clinical settings in four English NHS hospitals. Results: Clinical teams in our study planned 42 risk controls aimed at addressing safety hazards. Most (n=35) could be classed as administrative controls, thus qualifying amongst the weakest type of interventions according to the HoC approach. Six risk controls qualified as ‘engineering’ controls, i.e. the intermediate level of the hierarchy. Only risk control qualified as ‘substitution’, classified as the strongest type of intervention by the HoC. Conclusions: Many risk controls introduced by clinical teams cluster towards the apparently weaker end of an established hierarchy of controls. Less clear is whether the HoC approach as currently formulated is useful for the specifics of healthcare. Valuable opportunities for safety improvement may be lost if inappropriate hierarchical models are used to guide the selection of patient safety improvement interventions. Though learning from other industries may be useful, caution is needed.
Humans, Risk Assessment, Hospital Administration, Qualitative Research, Industry, Quality Control, Hospitals, Public, Risk Management, State Medicine, United States, England, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (U.S.), Patient Safety
Wellcome Trust (097899/A/11/Z)
Wellcome Trust (097899/Z/11/Z)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzx163
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/277230
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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