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A just culture: fair process for doctors who make honest mistakes

Avant media

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Creating a just culture

Our latest webinar ‘Creating a just culture,’ highlights the need for a fair process for doctors when analysing human errors to improve patient safety.

Featuring aviation safety expert, Dr Jonathan Aleck, Associate Director of the Aviation Safety of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our Risk IQ webinar: ’Creating a just culture: Honest mistakes or reckless behaviour? Who decides and what do we learn?’ is now available to view on-demand.

Drawing on his vast experience in aviation safety regulation, Dr Aleck presents key strategies to help doctors create a just culture to improve patient safety with insights from the aviation industry.

A just culture:

  • • encourages full disclosure
  • • acknowledges that well intentioned people still make mistakes
  • • supports learning from unsafe acts resulting in process and system changes
  • • maintains professional accountability.

“A just culture serves to make otherwise beneficial activities involving unavoidable risks safer, by fostering a learning environment in which honest mistakes are shared openly, free from worry about the consequences of fault or blame for wrongdoing, but without minimising or eliminating accountability for one’s acts or omissions,” Dr Aleck said.

Avant’s Head of Advocacy and the webinar’s moderator, Georgie Haysom said: “The webinar explores the key features of creating a just culture which acknowledges that well-intentioned people still make mistakes and they should not be punished for their honest mistakes.”

“Avant supports the creation of a just culture and the implementation of processes and systems in practices, clinics and hospitals after adverse events to improve safety awareness.”

“However, there needs to be a balance to ensure that human and system factors that lead to mistakes are fairly analysed and doctors are not unfairly penalised for honest mistakes,” she said.

Dr Aleck also explores the line between honest mistakes and wilful, deliberate or grossly negligent conduct.
“Critical questions about how the conduct in question is characterised, who decides how to classify it and in what context such classifications are meant to be made, need to be addressed,” he said.

Dr Aleck warns doctors that while striving to create a just culture is important, it may be unproductive unless appropriate systems and processes are established to respond to honest mistakes.

“I also consider some of the risks inherent in an uncritical approach to the deployment of just culture, and how these can jeopardise the very objectives a just culture is meant to secure based on real-life examples,” he said.

View the Avant Risk IQ webinar today

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