A national survey of frontline NHS services has revealed that more than 20% of patients suffer avoidable harm
The NHS Safety Thermometer gathers data submitted by all NHS providers on a set of four key care quality indicators linked to nursing: pressure ulcers, patient falls, urinary infections from catheters and new venous thromboembolisms. The July survey of the data collected from more than 141,000 patients across 205 organisations, including private providers of NHS funded care. It shows that in July 91% of NHS patients were “harm free” and 9% suffered an avoidable harm. 
Analysis of the figures by Nursing Times revealed the five trusts with highest rates of patients with avoidable harm from April to July were:
- Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust (23.5% of patients)
- City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust (23.1%)
- Airedale Foundation Trust (20.5%)
- Sussex Community Trust (19.3%)
- Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust (16.9%)
JP Nolan, nurse adviser for acute and emergency care at the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the safety thermometer as “a fantastic piece of work”, but added that local qualitative root cause analysis of harm caused to patients will be critical to driving improvements.
“Patient safety from a nursing perspective is about people being cared for in an appropriate setting, having the appropriate number of staff on duty. When we look at the patients who have incurred harm during their care it’s the root cause analysis that’s important, rather than a number. It’s very important that this isn’t a performance measure for the trusts but that it’s a patient safety measure being used to look at avoiding harm,” Nolan Said.
The prevention of avoidable pressure ulcers is important to an organization’s reputation as well as their liability. In a high tech world, it is important to do everything possible to prevent and document anything that may harm a patient. For more information on how to prevent pressure ulcers visit woundrounds.com.
 Williams, David. “Level of avoidable harm to NHS patients revealed.” Nursing Times. Web. 3 September 2012.