Swiss Cheese – An Important Part of Injury Prevention.
No one goes to work to injure themselves or those around them. Healthcare nurses, doctors, and technicians for example, are trained to do quite the opposite. Despite their best efforts however, we must remember that injuries can still happen on accident.
The healthcare industry can create risky work environments, where the possibility of injuries is real. Removing scalpel blades, opening ampoules, and counting needles are some regular, everyday tasks where injuries can occur. In the UK for example, approximately 100,000 accidental sharps injuries occur among healthcare workers each year.
To help visualise the reality of accidents, James Reason proposed the “Swiss Cheese Model” (image below).Imagine that a slice of cheese is a preventative measure made to stop injuries, and the holes are where accidents will “slip through” the preventative measure and affect people.
According to the metaphor, in a complex system, hazards are prevented from causing human losses by a series of barriers [swiss cheese slices]. Each barrier has unintended weaknesses, or holes – hence the similarity with Swiss cheese. These weaknesses are inconstant – i.e., the holes open and close at random. When by chance all holes are aligned, the hazard reaches the patient and causes harm”. So, instead of choosing the piece of cheese with the smallest holes, we are much better off stacking our cheese up. Implementing several preventative measures that cover eachother’s weaknesses is an extremely effective way to reduce expensive injuries.
Automatic, single-handed blade removers are a preventative measure that can reduce staff and patient injuries. By installing such a preventative measure, a medical institution or hospital is adding another, very important “slice of cheese” to their stack.
Proven to reduce injuries by up to five times when combined with a hands-free passing technique, automatic, single-handed blade removers such as the BladeFLASK, and BladeCASSETTE are available on the market to keep staff and patients safe right now.
To find out more about how the Swiss Cheese model applies to Healthcare, you can check out some of our other blogs including; Medication Errors: An Obstacle to Patient Safety. Further more, you can check out Qlicksmart Co-Founder, Dr Michael Sinnott’s recent presentation at the World Health Organisation’s first ever World Patient Safety Day.