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Determining what good looks like in patient safety

21 September 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 17


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses several recently published patient safety reports

A key question that I often see when analysing and discussing patient safety and health quality reports is what ‘good’ looks like. Good is not a simple term. It may even be relative, with people agreeing to differ on what they consider good. Just saying that something is a good patient safety practice (or not) may not be enough to give the reader the full picture. The context in which the word is being used also requires discussion and understanding. There may also be other more technical, legal words used to describe care levels and any patient harm sustained. Saying good, mediocre, or poor care was given may not always be enough.

In a clinical negligence case, for example, the court must carefully unpack and analyse the level of care given to determine whether there was any negligence. Lawyers discuss with clinical experts the quality of care given and views on this can differ.

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