17 Sep 2021

Clinical Negligence

Reflecting on the importance of World Patient Safety Day

September 17th is World Patient Safety Day, coordinated by the World Health Organisation. The event calls for global solidarity and action from all stakeholders within health and social care industries to ensure the continued improvement of patient safety.

Alicia Johns, the newest member of our Clinical Negligence department, authors our latest blog, discussing why awareness days are so integral to promoting safety and reducing risk. We also take the time to find out a little more about Alicia's journey to #TeamHE!

What is World Patient Safety Day?

Established by the World Health Assembly in 2019, World Patient Safety Day is observed annually on 17th September.

According to the World Health Organisation, the day aims to ‘enhance global understanding of patient safety’, as well as bringing together a number of key stakeholders in the health and social care industries to promote, protect and prevent avoidable harm.

Every year, a theme is selected to shed light on a ‘priority patient safety area‘. This year, the focus is on maternal and newborn care, with a particular focus on childbirth, where most harm occurs.

How is the day being marked across the globe?

There are loads of virtual events being held around the world, including a World Patient Day Virtual Conference hosted by the WHO. Monuments will also be bathed in the colour orange – including the Jet d’Eau in Geneva.

Why are awareness days such as these so important?

Awareness of days like this is important because it brings the issue to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whilst patient safety should always be at the front of our medical professional’s minds, complexities in the health care systems and the strain caused by staff shortages can make it hard to deliver care and treatment devoid of risk, error and harm.

Having a sole day of awareness directs focus and breathes life back into the issue making it more likely that clinicians will provide care and treatment with this in mind, which is more likely to prevent and reduce risks, error and ultimately harm.

A day of awareness also provides regular opportunity for continued review, discussion and improvement, with learning from errors and adverse events in the previous year.

How does the work of the Clinical Negligence team mirror the objectives of World Patient Safety Day?

Our clinical negligence team deal daily with cases where hundreds of patients have suffered avoidable harm from care and treatment provided to them. The objectives of World Patient Safety Day and our work in bringing clinical negligence cases on behalf of our clients go hand in hand.

The aim (and often the main motivation) behind bringing claims is to prevent other patients going through their experiences and to advocate best practices, seeing meaningful change in policy and procedures surrounding care and treatment.

Both keep the issue of patient safety alive and help to bring about important discussion and changes in the policy and guidance, which can help to reduce error and harm, ultimately improving patient safety and care.

What steps can individuals take to keep themselves safe and healthy?

I always advise my clients that have concerns over ongoing treatment and their safety to be vocal. Your voice is your biggest tool in ensuring your safety. You should ask questions, trust your instincts and seek second opinions if appropriate. Be involved in your care or the care of a loved one, ensuring that you provide clear and accurate information and medical history.

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Tell us a bit more about your career journey…

I attended Cardiff University, graduating with a degree in Law & Criminology. I have worked for well-renowned firms and decided to take the CILEx route to qualification, qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2019.

My background was in industrial disease and personal injury before specializing in medical negligence in 2017.  I love the complexity and variety that a clinical negligence case load offers, as well as knowing that the work I’m doing is hugely rewarding. I love being able to help my clients when at their most vulnerable, securing resolution for them in both an emotional and financial way.

It is a privilege to work on behalf of my clients and in doing so be able to make a difference to their future following sometimes life-changing injuries.

What attracted you to Harding Evans?

Harding Evans is an excellent firm and the clinical negligence team’s reputation proceeds them.

Ken is a prominent figure in the clinical negligence world and to get to work alongside him was a massive selling point.

The ethos and culture of Harding Evans is also a rare find. It’s encouraging to be in a firm that promotes your personal growth and spends time investing in the next generation of lawyers, under the guidance and supervision of top specialists in our area.

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