A large proportion of patients who die in hospital will be under the care of geriatric medicine. Mortality reviews have traditionally used trigger tools to try and identify preventable deaths, but the majority of hospital deaths are not preventable and lapses in care are often very complex. Over a period of 14 months we performed four PDSA cycles to change the focus of mortality meetings within care of the elderly and stroke medicine at Cumberland Infirmary to look beyond preventable deaths. The aim was to maximise learning from mortality meetings to improve patient care.
We used collaborative working at a trust and departmental level, moving from trigger tool preparation to a narrative approach, and we set up strategies to focus and disseminate our learning. The mean number of cases discussed per meeting and the mean number of lessons identified per case discussed increased, as did the learning levels (trust, department, individual). Maintaining multidisciplinary input and consolidating lessons learnt was difficult because of clinical commitments and natural staff turnover.
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