Veterinary surgeons, human healthcare professionals and experts from the maritime and aviation industries gathered at the Royal Society of Medicine earlier this month to discuss and share knowledge about the contributions of human factors to patient safety.

Amongst the speakers were Catherine Oxtoby MRCVS, Risk Manager at the Veterinary Defence Society, and Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.

Dr Stacey explained how Vets4Pets and Companion Care practices are embracing a culture of sharing information when things don’t go according to plan in practice.

He said: "We all face challenges in the workplace, and this event focused on how different professions can share ideas and good practice and how they find solutions to any challenges.

"The culture of aviation and maritime is one of minimising risk and putting safety first, and it is fascinating to compare their approach to that found in medicine and veterinary.

"One common theme we discussed was the wellbeing of both professionals and patients or clients, with tiredness being at the top of the list of things that can negatively affect wellbeing and performance.

"Both aviation and maritime recognised that long shifts, particularly overnight, needed to be reduced in order to improve the outcome for everyone.

"In veterinary and human medicine, tiredness and long shifts are often worn as a badge of honour and being tired at work was something that should be admired, rather than addressed.

"But, tired vets are effectively neglecting themselves and their own wellbeing, which in turn leads to pets not receiving the best level of care in practice.

"This is something we’re taking seriously at Vets4Pets and Companion Care, and we’re currently looking at ways to decrease the risk of overworked and tired vets and vet nurses."

Another area of discussion was around the reporting of near misses and when things don’t go right, and how veterinary professionals need to identify and share the learnings from these events, not only within their practice, but with the wider profession too.

He said: "We need to continually emphasise the concept of a ‘just’ culture, to ensure our colleagues feel confident about reporting incidents open and honestly."

"It is not in the interests of the professional, the patient or the client to bottle things up, and at Vets4Pets and Companion Care we’re encouraging all of our practices to adopt the VDS VetSafe system, which provides a mechanism for sharing incident reports across the profession, enabling us all to learn from them to the benefit of our patients."


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