2. Safe Healthcare

“Keeping People with Communication Disability Safe in Hospital”

Improving the safety of the most vulnerable patients in hospital is a high priority in any self-improving health system. Currently, patients with severe communication disabilities – who often also have high physical support needs – face a three-fold increased risk for patient safety incidents in hospital. Without adequate information on the causes of the increased risk and ecologically appropriate interventions to amerliorate this risk, these patients will continue to experience significantly longer longer stays and re-admission rates as a result of harmful and preventable patient safety incidents. An estimated 15% of hospital patients at any one time in high dependency wards have communication disabilities that prevent communication by speech. This study involves the analysis of data from four sources and by a multidisciplinary Expert Consensus Panel to produce (a) an evidence based-framework of patient safety incidents in adults with pre-existing severe communication disabilities, and (b) a theoretically tested Clinical Audit Tool for Communication in Hospital (CATCH) that will help to reduce the physical, psycho-social and financial costs associated with harmful and preventable patient safety incidents in hospital related to communication disabilities.

This project was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for three years, from 1st August 2013-16. The research was conducted at The University of Newcastle, Australia.

Further updates are published in our SafetyCATCH Newsletter.

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Research Team:

Chief Investigators: Dr. Bronwyn Hemsley (The University of Newcastle, Australia),  A/Prof. Andrew Georgiou (The University of New South Wales), and Dr. Sophie Hill (La Trobe University; Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group).

Associate Investigators: Prof. Susan Balandin (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Dr. Anne Duggan (Hunter New England Health), Dr. Leanne Johnston (Cerebral Palsy League and The University of Queensland), Ms. Karen Kelly (Hunter New England Health), Dr. John Wakefield (Queensland Health), Prof. Linda Worrall (The University of Queensland, Aphasia CCRE).

Contact: Dr. Bronwyn Hemsley


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