Improving patient safety

Wednesday 22 August 2007

A major new research partnership which aims to make it safer for patients when they go into hospital or see their GP is officially being launched today (August 22).

The new Scottish Patient Safety Research Network, which will research causes and possible solutions to these problems, is a collaboration between the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews.

The network, funded by £1.5M from the Scottish Funding Council plus £1M from the partners, has been established to study the causes of what are known as `adverse event’ – incidents which result in harm such as patients mistakenly being given the wrong drugs or dose of drug which can, in worse cases, result in disability and death.

An estimated 85,000 adverse events occur each year in Scotland with costs to the country estimated at £200 million. Approximately 50% of them are preventable.

Medication errors account for one third of adverse events which occur to patients in health care. Other examples of these events include hospital acquired infections, wrong site surgery, hospital falls, radiation errors or patient identification mistakes.

Professor Rhona Flin, who heads the University of Aberdeen’s Patient Safety Research Group, leads the collaboration. She said: “This new grant is designed to enhance our knowledge of what causes these adverse events to patients and what we can do to reduce them. We will be working in association with the Scottish Patient Safety Alliance which has recently been set up by the Scottish Executive to address this problem.”

Professor Huw Davies, who is Professor of Health Care Policy and Management at St Andrews, and Director of the Social Dimensions of Health Institute (SDHI), a joint institute between the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee, said: “We need to understand the organisational and professional contexts within which these unfortunate events occur so that we are better able to design safer systems.”

Professor Peter Davey, Professor of Pharmacoeconomics and Director of External Relations for the Health Informatics Centre, University of Dundee added: “The NHS in Scotland has unique information resources but using these to improve patient safety presents undeniable challenges for preserving confidentiality. The Patient Safety Research Network will enable us to work with the public and professionals to build secure systems that make it easier to do the right thing.”

A wide range of patient safety research studies are already underway at the three universities.

Today’s launch at the University of Aberdeen will be attended by NHS and Health Department representatives and senior management and academics from all three Universities. The three collaborating professors and Dr David Williams – consultant physician at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who is leading one of the key work packages to measure adverse events in Scottish hospitals – will give a brief overview of the partnership and give an insight into some of its research projects.

For more information about the new Scottish Patient Safety Research Network visit:


Note to editors:



Professors Rhona Flin, Huw Davies, Peter Davey and Dr Williams are all available for photographs/ interviews between 11.00am and 11.30am.



Please contact Jennifer Phillips, Communications Office, University of Aberdeen, to arrange on 01224 273174.

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Regent Walk. Tel: 01224 273174. Contact: Jennifer Phillips.

Ref: patientsafety
August 22, 2007

Category Research

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