The microbiology laboratory I work in is one of the biggest in the country and it processes about 1.5 million samples per year. That’s 1.5 million results. Do I think we get every one of those results correct… no. That would be unrealistic and I’m not that gullible (or fabulous!). Even if we were only wrong once in every 10,000 samples (0.01%) that would still be 150 errors a year. Which seems a high number, I think you’d agree? I suspect mistakes occur daily in the NHS.
The key to errors in medicine is to reduce them to as low as possible by recognising that they occur and learning from them when they do.
In order to do this, we use tools like incident reporting, root cause analysis (RCA) and serious incident investigations. The aim is to make sure the same mistakes don’t keep happening.