Understanding Significant Event Analysis

Understanding Significant Event Analysis

Significant event analysis is a constructive way to analyse adverse events. It supports our clinical governance by providing the opportunity to reflect on such events, learn from their outcomes and make appropriate changes to practice. 

At the VDS we understand that even highly trained and motivated professionals sometimes make mistakes, and that veterinary practice doesn't always go according to plan. We also know through our team’s many years of working in veterinary practice that the very thought of being involved in such an event, let alone the admission of it and investigation into it, can be a really uncomfortable place to be. That’s why we designed VetSafe and why we provide clinicians with a whole host of resources to support you through this difficult time. VetSafe helps us learn from our mistakes; it is not a tool for blame, judgement, discipline or performance management. 

The role of VetSafe in significant event analysis 

VetSafe was designed by vets for the veterinary community. It aims to improve veterinary patient safety, quality of care and clinician wellbeing by facilitating the constructive investigation of significant events, sharing learning through the profession and supporting VDS members involved in professional mistakes. 

VetSafe is a VDS member benefit and is a confidential tool that can be used via our website or by downloading the app. 

The system has three aims: 

  1. To gather data on professional errors that cause patient harm and near misses which could result in a complaint or claim 
  2. To understand why errors occur 
  3. And, to learn from errors and share that learning amongst our members. 

What counts as a significant event?  

  • Harmful Incidents: These include any incident which results in harm to a patient. An example would be a medication error such as injecting a cat with Metacam dog or performing the wrong procedure on a patient such as spaying a male cat. 
  • Near Misses: Any incident which could result in a complaint or claim and would have caused harm but is noticed before it impacts on the patient. An example of a relevant near miss might involve dispensing the wrong strength of drug, however the owner notices the mistake before administering treatment but incurs additional costs correcting the error. 

Reporting a significant event using VetSafe 

Reporting on VetSafe is quick and easy. 

  1. Log in or register for an online account here
  2. Watch this video to familiarise yourself with the system. 
  3. Click on 'Report an Incident'. 
  4. Complete all the sections of the report form, using the drop down menus where appropriate. Be sure to complete all of the mandatory sections, which are marked with a red asterix.  
  5. Click 'Save Incident'. 

To protect the identity of those involved, individuals’ names will be removed from reports, with only the VDS being able to see the name of the member who has submitted the report.  

What happens next? 

Practices can access their own VetSafe reports at any time, which will help you understand why mistakes have happened and develop solutions that will reduce the chance of similar events happening in the future, improving the quality of veterinary care. We know that many practices use their VetSafe reports to conduct their significant event analysis and mortality and morbidity meetings. There are lots of resources on the VetSafe website to help you get started, including meeting structures and templates. 

Your practice will also have access to summary data from all the reports, meaning that not only can you learn from your own and your practice’s mistakes, but you can learn from what’s happening in other practices as well. 

And, what about me? 

At the VDS, many of our colleagues have been there and got the t-shirt. We know how upsetting and stressful a time this can be, so we’ve got lots of support available for you. 

  • Our comprehensive advice service is delivered by qualified vets with unrivalled expertise in veterinary claims and complaint handling, and is available either on the phone or email. 
  • Our regular VDS newsletter contains content to help support and develop you. Make sure you’re receiving your copy here
  • Our colleagues at VDS Training offer a range of training courses as well as bespoke coaching and mentoring on a range of non-clinical topics.

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