Risk Assessment and Incident/Accident reporting in the medical industry



The culture of health and safety is very much to anticipate and risk assess in advance to prevent incidents/accidents.

When prevention does not work and there is an accident/incident then there should be some form of an investigation including some analysis of what happened and at the very least an incident form completed. In the NHS these are quite often referred to as critical incident reports.

The critical incident report will be the result of some sort of investigation by the Trust into what happened, whether any mistakes were made and if yes, how such mistakes can be prevented from happening in the future.

Some critical incident reports are brief, others will have been the result of a detailed investigation whereby statements are taken from those involved and sometimes, expert advice sought about what has happened. It should include analysis of the patient’s records, if relevant. The quality of the critical incident reports can vary.

This type of investigation occurs in most industries, for example the aviation industry investigates plane crashes and prepares reports into the causes. The flight ‘black box’ could be considered analogous to the patient’s records in that the records, if detailed and comprehensive, can give a history of what went wrong.

Unfortunately, as the House of Commons Health Committee reported there is too often, inaction on the part of NHS Trusts.

The report suggested that a fear of litigation and a "blame" culture may be preventing NHS staff from coming forward when accidents/incidents occur. Lack of training or understanding of the process may also be a factor?

Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors has a specialist medical negligence department. It will investigate whether there has been any potential negligence on the part of a Trust, and this does include asking the Trust for relevant documentation, including critical incident reports.

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