Photograph of a doctor in blue scrubs overlaid with an illustration of a padlock

Anonymity in the Time of a Pandemic: Privacy vs. Transparency

By Cansu Canca

As coronavirus cases increase worldwide, institutions keep their communities informed with frequent updates—but only up to a point. They share minimal information such as number of cases, but omit the names of individuals and identifying information.

Many institutions are legally obligated to protect individual privacy, but is this prohibition of transparency ethically justified?

Some even go a step further and ask you, an individual in a community, to choose privacy over transparency as well. Harvard—alongside with  Yale, Chicago, and Northwestern—requests you to “Please Respect Individuals’ Privacy. Anonymity for these individuals remains paramount. Please respect their privacy—even if you believe you know who they are—so they can focus completely on their health” (emphasis in original).

But do you have an ethical obligation to do so at the time of a pandemic?

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an ambulance parked at the entrance of an emergency department

Patient Safety and Health Quality in the NHS (National Health Service) in England: A Zip Code Lottery?

By John Tingle

The independent regulator of health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regularly produces detailed inspection reports on the health and care organisations that it regulates. These reports show that quality of care and patient safety are not consistent across England’s health and care facilities. Wide variations in quality and safety between core services in the same NHS hospital or in the same locality as well as regionally are sometimes revealed. It is clear from reading the reports that patient safety and health quality cannot be a measured as a constant across England.

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The Ostrich Syndrome and Patient Safety

By John Tingle

Sadly, the NHS (National Health Service) in England is littered with examples of cases where individuals and organisations have seemingly buried their heads in the sand when patient safety errors have occurred. Attitudes that can be seen in past reports range from,’ it’s not my responsibility’, to procrastination, or passing the buck, assuming that another organisation is dealing with the matter or just simply delaying a response or even ignoring the situation completely.

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Photograph of a report on a table, the report is labeled, "NHS"

The NHS In England: Patient Safety News Roundup

By John Tingle

There is always a lot happening with patient safety in the NHS (National Health Service) in England. Sadly, all too often patient safety crises events occur. The NHS is also no sloth when it comes to the production of patient safety policies, reports, and publications. These generally provide excellent information and are very well researched and produced. Unfortunately, some of these can be seen to falter at the NHS local hospital implementation stage and some reports get parked or forgotten. This is evident from the failure of the NHS to develop an ingrained patient safety culture over the years. Some patient safety progress has been made, but not enough when the history of NHS policy making in the area is analysed.

Lessons going unlearnt from previous patient safety event crises is also an acute problem. Patient safety events seem to repeat themselves with the same attendant issues

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Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx giving a speech from a podium with an American flag and PEPFAR banner in the background

One of the Biggest Public Health Initiatives in History: PEPFAR and HIV

By Daniel Aaron

In October, the Petrie-Flom Center hosted a conference of world-leading experts in HIV/AIDS to discuss one of the biggest public health successes in history: PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR was launched in 2003 in response to a burgeoning global epidemic of HIV. The program offered $2 billion annually, rising to about $7 billion in 2019, to surveil, diagnose, treat, and reduce transmission of HIV around the world.

PEPFAR prevented what could have become an exponentially growing epidemic. It is estimated to have saved more than 17 million lives and avoided millions of new HIV infections. As a result, the speakers at the conference were quick to extol the virtues of the program. Professor Ashish Jha called it an “unmitigated success”; Professor Marc C. Elliott named it a “historic effort”; Dr. Ingrid Katz described PEPFAR as “nothing short of miraculous.”

However, several undercurrents within the conference, as well as more explicit points made by several panelists, suggested the importance of enlarging the discussion beyond PEPFAR itself to include other policies that impact HIV and AIDS, and even other diseases.

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A mother holds her baby close to her chest and gazes at their face

Maternity Scandal Hits the NHS

By John Tingle

Unfortunately, it’s never too long before a major NHS patient safety crisis hits the newspaper headlines in the United Kingdom. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SATH) maternity scandal has just become a major breaking U.K. patient safety news story.

Shaun Lintern reports in The Independent:

Hundreds of families whose babies died or were seriously injured at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust do not even know their cases have been identified for investigation in the biggest maternity scandal to ever hit the NHS… Dozens of babies and three mothers died in the trust’s maternity wards, where a ‘toxic culture’ stretched back to 1979, according to an interim report leaked to The Independent this week.

Patient Safety Scandals

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Wooden figurine of a person leans against a wood wall clock

Patient Satisfaction in the NHS in England with the Emergency Room

By John Tingle

The Accident and Emergency (A&E), the Emergency Room, is the bellwether NHS speciality from which all the other clinical specialities appear to be judged. Long reported delays and missed targets in the A&E (Emergency Room) lead to a public, media clamoring that the NHS is a failing public service. The independent regulator of health and social care in England, the CQC (Care Quality Commission) recently published findings from a national survey of more than 50,000 people who received urgent and emergency care from 132 NHS trusts (hospitals).The survey looked at people’s experiences, from decision to attend, to leave, using Type 1 (major A&E) and Type 3 (urgent care centers, minor injury units, urgent treatment centers) urgent and emergency care services.

Survey Results

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Senior female woman patient in wheelchair sitting in hospital corridor with nurses and doctor

Care Quality Commission Annual Assessment of Health and Social Care

By John Tingle

The independent regulator for health and social care in England, the Quality Care Commission (CQC) has recently published its annual report on the real-time state of health and social care in England. It analyses trends, shares examples of outstanding, good, and poor health care care practices. It provides a true, unabashed account of issues facing the National Health Service (NHS) and health care delivery.

A Health System Stretched

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Hand placing wood toy block on top of a tower. The blocks all have images of medical-related items on them, like pills, stethoscope, syringe

Lost in the Jungle of Patient Safety Reports, Publications and Initiatives?

By John Tingle

In terms of the progress of developing a patient safety culture in the National Health Service (NHS) in England, the Daily Telegraph reports comments made by Professor Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at a recent conference in London. He held the view that “little progress” has been made improving patient safety in the NHS in 20 years, and that never events such as wrong site surgery were still happening because the overall culture is one of defensiveness. The Telegraph reported, “He told The Patient Safety Learning conference that hospital managers routinely hide evidence from the CQC, because they regard the organisation as out to blame them.”

The Telegraph also mentions an NHS estimate in July that 11,000 patients a year may be dying as a result of blunders, partly as a result of a “blame game” culture between staff.

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Photograph of a report on a table, the report is labeled, "NHS"

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England: Annual Review of Progress

By John Tingle

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) occupies a pivotal role in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care sector in securing health quality and patient safety. Its inspection activities through its reports and publications form the backbone of quality and safety in these sectors. As the independent regulator of health and social care in England it faces a mammoth task. The CQC has recently published its annual report and accounts, which provide useful insights into its work. The report provides a window on how England regulates health, social care quality, and patient safety. There is detailed reflection in the report about how the organisation can better perform its functions and the challenges and opportunities currently facing it.

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