Examining the application of STAMP in the analysis of patient safety incidents
thesisposted on 22.11.2018 by Aneurin Canham
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This thesis examines the application of Systems-Theoretic Accident Model and Processes (STAMP) in healthcare and the analysis of patient safety incidents. Healthcare organisations have a responsibility for the safety of the patients they are treating. This includes the avoidance of unintended or unexpected harm to people during the provision of care. Patient safety incidents, that is adverse events where patients are harmed, are investigated and analysed as accidents are in other safety-critical industries, to gain an understanding of failure and to generate recommendations to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future. However, there is some dissatisfaction with the current quality of incident analysis in healthcare. There is dissatisfaction with the recommendations that are generated from healthcare incident analysis which are felt to produce weak and ineffective remedial actions, often including retraining of individuals and small policy change. Issues with current practice have been linked to the use of Root Cause Analysis (RCA), an analysis method that often results in the understanding of an accident as being the result of a linear chain of events. This type of simple linear approach has been the target of criticism in safety science research and is not felt to be effective in the analysis of incidents in complex systems, such as healthcare. Research in accident analysis methods has developed from a focus on technical failure and individual human actions to consideration of the interactions between people, technology and the organisation. Accident analysis methods have been developed that guide investigations to consideration of the whole system and interactions between system components. These system approaches are judged to be superior to simple linear approaches by the research community, however, they are not currently used in healthcare incident investigation practice. The systems approach of STAMP is felt to be a promising method for the improvement of healthcare incident analysis. STAMP strongly embodies the concepts of systems theory and analyses human decision-making. The application of STAMP in healthcare was investigated through three case studies, which applied STAMP in: 1. The analysis of the large-scale organisational failure at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust between 2005-2009. 2. The analysis of a common small-scale hospital-based medication prescription error. 3. The analysis of patient suicide in the community-based services of a Mental Health Trust. The effectiveness of the STAMP applications was evaluated with feedback from healthcare stakeholders on the usability and utility of STAMP and discussion of the STAMP applications against criteria for accident analysis models and methods. Healthcare stakeholders were generally positive about the utility of STAMP, finding it to provide a system view and guide consideration of interactions between system components. They also felt it would help them generate recommendations and were positive about the future application of STAMP in healthcare. However, many felt it to be a complicated method that would need specialist expertise to apply. The STAMP applications demonstrated the ability of STAMP to consider the whole system and guide an analysis to the generation of recommendations for system measures to prevent future incidents. From the findings of the research, recommendations are made to improve STAMP and to assist future applications of STAMP in healthcare. The research also discusses the other factors that influence incident analysis beyond that of the analytical approach used and how these need to be considered to maximise the effectiveness of STAMP.