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Preserving confidentiality important in patient surveillance systems

08 Sep 2015


Dr Tony Holohan

Findings from an international review conducted by HIQA into national patient surveillance systems have revealed the importance of preserving the confidentiality of people who report patient safety incidents, IMT can report.

The establishment of a National Patient Surveillance System was a recommendation in the report into perinatal deaths in Portlaoise Hospital compiled by the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan.

HIQA has completed an international review on how patient surveillance systems operate in other countries, which will be published by the end of this year to coincide with the report on how best to establish such a system within the Irish health service.

The international review documents published evidence relating to reporting and learning systems for patient safety incidents in Europe, and in particular examines the approaches undertaken in four jurisdictions: British Columbia (Canada), Denmark, England and Scotland.

According to HIQA’s May Board meeting minutes, the findings showed that in all jurisdictions reviewed, the reporting systems were separate from formal complaints and litigation processes, and were most successful when the confidentiality of the reporter was preserved.

The information reported is used to identify risks, to trigger alerts and for trend/cluster analysis.

The first meeting of the expert advisory group charged with conducting further analysis on the current situation in Ireland will take place next month, with a further meeting planned for November.

Recommendations will then be developed for coordinating patient safety intelligence in Ireland, which will be presented to the Board when complete.

By Paul Mulholland

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Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times