Checking in healthcare safety: theoretical basis and practical application

James Shillito (Lancaster Patient Safety Research Unit, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Lancaster, UK)
Konstantinos Arfanis (Lancaster Patient Safety Research Unit, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Lancaster, UK)
Andrew Smith (Lancaster Patient Safety Research Unit, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Lancaster, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 5 October 2010

Abstract

Purpose

Healthcare includes important processes such as checking to reduce errors. Checking is a prescribed part of many patient care activities with many checks being performed during one hospital admission. Some may be standard but unwritten practices, whereas others are laid down in official guidance. Errors in the bedside checking procedure are the commonest cause of mis‐transfusion, so more thorough checking could prevent adverse events. This paper aims to explore and enhance understanding regarding healthcare checking procedures. In doing so it seeks to identify a further research agenda.

Design/methodology/approach

The computerised databases CINAHL, PsycLIT, EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO and MEDLINE were searched using specific indexing terms and free text including “bedside, peri‐operative safety, theatre checking and checklists”. Only English publications were included.

Findings

Like any human activity, checking is part of personality and behaviour. There are several psychological factors relevant to patient safety, including: memory, prospective memory, automaticity and responsibility. All are relevant to healthcare.

Research limitations/implications

Bandolier criteria have not explicitly been used within this review but have been met. It would be beneficial for future reviews to explicitly state how Bandolier criteria are met. This would possibly enhance the publications' scientific quality.

Practical implications

There is much to learn regarding interacting factors that influence healthcare checking procedures and ultimately checking performance. The authors recommend that relationships between checking and personality should be explored. Furthermore, exploring how healthcare “mindfulness” might be promoted and what reminder/checking strategies healthcare staff already use in their day‐to‐day work routines should be examined.

Originality/value

Several psychological factors involved in checking and its relevance to healthcare and patient safety are identified. Additionally, recommendations for further research are indicated.

Keywords

Citation

Shillito, J., Arfanis, K. and Smith, A. (2010), "Checking in healthcare safety: theoretical basis and practical application", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 23 No. 8, pp. 699-707. https://doi.org/10.1108/09526861011081831

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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