Belgian Hospital AZ Sint-Lucas: Enhancing Patient Safety Monitoring

AZ Sint-Lucas is a modern hospital located in the heart of Bruges serving a large catchment area stretching across the province of West Flanders in Belgium. A major employer in the region, the hospital has approximately 1300 staff including 100 doctors who care for 30,000 patients every year.

AZ Sint-Lucas provides a broad range of healthcare services and has 415 beds plus an additional 70 beds in the outpatients department. It boasts the latest, high-performance medical imaging technology and a well respected children’s department.

The journey towards total Quality Management

Dr Daniel de Coninck, Medical Director at AZ Sint-Lucas is actively involved in improving patient safety which is essential to the hospital’s overall Quality Management programme. In particular, he is responsible for assessing the level of attention paid to the recording and monitoring of incidents and complaints in an attempt to reduce the number of medical errors in the hospital.

Up until 2007, AZ Sint-Lucas relied on staff remembering to report incidents either by telephone or in the form of hand-written notes. At the time, only 30 incidents were actually reported every year. The hospital then used an in-house developed electronic system to report and record incidents more effectively. After two years, the number of incidents being reported had risen to around 100 per year. However, despite the three-fold increase, Dr de Coninck and his team were still not convinced that all incidents were being captured efficiently and decided to search for a new, automated patient 
safety solution.

UK provides the inspiration for new patient safety framework

The two products that AZ Sint-Lucas first evaluated in the Belgian marketplace offered no additional functionality over their own in-house electronic system so the hospital looked further afield. According to Dr de Coninck, “The healthcare market in Belgium is relatively small therefore we have a limited number of computer programs designed for hospitals in the area of adverse event management. This means that Flemish hospitals tend to look towards the UK or USA for technology solutions. RLDatix operates in many countries and its software is used by the US military healthcare programme, by health-care organisations in both Canada and Australia and by over 70% of the National Health Service in the UK. Its proven track record and expertise in patient safety gave us the confidence we need moving forward.”

Dr de Coninck first heard about the RLDatix system at a medical conference he attended in London and was particularly impressed by the way incidents, complaints, claims and safety alerts are integrated making the RLDatix solution a complete safety and quality tool, essential to the AZ Sint-Lucas Quality Management approach.

AZ Sint-Lucas became the first hospital in mainland Europe to implement RLDatix incident reporting and complaints handling software to increase patient safety and reduce the number of complaints relating to medical errors.

"The software has quickly become a powerful tool to highlight potential risks, enabling us to take a more proactive approach to improving patient safety. Working with the RLDatix team in the UK has been a very positive experience for us and we look forward to building this close collaboration in the future.”
Dr de Coninck, Medical Director, AZ Sint-Lucas

One central system, one set of processes

The system was implemented in early November 2010 and was up and running only four months later. By February 2011, all incidents and complaints were held electronically in the system and available to medical staff. Niko Dierickx, Hospital Director at AZ Sint-Lucas added, “the system means that complaints are recorded centrally and doctors, service or department heads can investigate incidents in a unified fashion so avoiding possible errors. Over time, this will also help us guard against potential litigation.”

Fast, tangible results for patients, management and staff

Since deploying the new web-based solution, AZ Sint-Lucas has noticed a series
of tangible improvements. In the first year alone, the number of incidents reported tripled from 100 to 300. This figure rose dramatically again between the months of March to October 2011 to 600 incidents, twice as many as the previous year in only eight months! AZ Sint-Lucas expects further improvements as more staff are trained in the new system and user confidence grows.

In a very short space of time RLDatix has benefited AZ Sint-Lucas in a strategic way. With an increase in the number of incidents reported and the ability to produce trend analysis data, plus numerical proof of the existence of incidents, means that staff now have the evidence to help their managers effect change to improve patient safety.

Dr De Coninck concluded, “the system has quickly become a powerful tool to highlight potential risks, enabling us to take a more proactive approach to improving patient safety. Working with the RLDatix team in the UK has been a very positive experience for us and we look forward to building this close collaboration in the future.”

Plans for the future

Next on the horizon is the widespread deployment of the RLDatix complaints module. Over time, Dr de Coninck hopes to expand the current system to maximise the full capabilities of the RLDatix portfolio and make it an integral part of the hospital’s quality and safety policy.
AZ Sint-Lucas and RLDatix are also working on the translation of the software to enable the introduction of safety risk management software into other hospitals in Belgium.

About AZ Sint Lucas

AZ Sint-Lucas is a modern hospital located in the heart of Bruges serving a large catchment area stretching across the province of West Flanders in Belgium. A major employer in the region, the hospital has approximately 1300 staff including 100 doctors who care for 30,000 patients every year. 

AZ Sint-Lucas provides a broad range of healthcare services and has 415 beds plus an additional 70 beds in the outpatients department. It boasts the latest, high-performance medical imaging technology and a well respected children’s department. For more information: www.sintlucas.be

 

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