Learning from deaths of people in their care can help NHS providers improve the quality of the care they provide to patients and their families, and identify where they could do more.
A Care Quality Commission (CQC) review in December 2016, 'Learning, candour and accountability: a review of the way trusts review and investigate the deaths of patients in England' found that some providers were not giving learning from deaths sufficient priority and so were missing valuable opportunities to identify and make improvements in quality of care.
In March 2017, the National Quality Board (NQB) introduced new guidance for NHS providers on how they should learn from the deaths of people in their care. NHS Improvement is now helping trusts to meet the requirements of the new guidance.
We will publish our data here, with further explanation below:
Learning from Deaths Data Explained
The Trust reviews all patients who have died and identifies from national thresholds / triggers those patients that require further in depth reviews called Structured Judgement Reviews (SJR). This is based on the Learning from Deaths national guidance. ('National Guidance on Learning from Deaths', National Quality Board, March 2017).
The Trust publishes the Learning from Deaths Dashboard quarterly. The dashboard will be available on the Trust's website here for sharing with our partners including Dorset CCG.
Quarter 1 (1 April – 20 June 2018)
The total number of adult in patient deaths for Quarter 1 (1April – 30 June 2018) was 161. This is the Total number of Deaths in Scope within the dashboard. Of these 161 deaths 21 (13%) so far have had a full SJR. This is in line with a nationally expected rate of 10-15%. In addition the divisional teams have conducted a further 9 SJRs relating to deaths from Quarters 3 & 4 of 2017/18. A backlog of SJRs generally occurs for a number of reasons including medical records availability and hence these numbers were not included within the numbers of completed SJR on Q3 / Q4 dashboard submissions. We are reviewing our reporting process to better capture the work we are doing. Alongside which we are comparing our process to that of other Trusts to try to achieve better clarity and consistency in order to facilitate data interpretation and comparison against national peers. Nationally this work is ongoing as currently there is no set template and method of presenting the information as part of the commitment to publish data.
Dashboard guidance states: The Structured Judgement Review methodology, for use in relation to adult acute inpatient deaths, allows for reviewers to score a death as having a more than 50% chance of having been 'avoidable' when this judgement is made in relation to the care provided by the trust conducting the review. This is the equivalent of a score of 3 or less. Such deaths are subject to further review and scrutiny. The aim is to learn from deaths and continuously improve the quality of care provided to our patients and their families. 1 death in the last quarter (Q4) was identified within this category.
As well as scoring an 'avoidability' judgement the SJR template allows for reviewers to record quality of care during the 6 stages of care including an Overall Assessment of Care score. Our practice is for deaths judged as low scoring (1or 2) for overall care to be considered by the reviewer and / or Hospital Mortality Group members for a further review by way of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) investigation. Low scores across the 6 stages of care and within the overall assessment of care have been found to relate to areas where care could be improved although the care provided would not necessarily have contributed to the death. Examples include communication across teams, documentation and improving End of Life (EoL) Care. Lessons are learnt and shared across teams. Themes emerging are triangulated across the Trust e.g. within Quality Improvement systems, Sepsis and EoL committees.
DCHFT also review RCAs relating to deaths to cross check any with a low score at SJR (for 'avoidability' and overall care scores). Last year we identified 4 of 8 RCAs relating to deaths having a low score at SJR. 1 of these had an 'avoidability' score of 3 (probably avoidable ie more than 50:50). This is the death mentioned above and recorded on the dashboard for last Q4. In addition, 3 had low scores unrelated to 'avoidability' and are included in the total of 4 reported on the Dashboard for last year. Key to note is the areas for improvements in care were not thought to have been contributory to the death.
It is important to note that many of the SJRs have identified excellent care including excellent care planning, communication, early identification & management of sepsis and quality of EoLC / bereavement care. The aim of all reviews is to continually improve care – hence the national term 'Learning from Deaths'.