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Consent, communication, confidentiality

Communication is a key factor in preventing patient safety incidents and also in learning from them afterwards. Communication includes the mechanics of communication as well as actually talking to one another.


It is one of the key themes of the Seven Steps to Patient Safety, which encourages healthcare organisations to involve and communicate with patients and the public, as well as learning and sharing safety lessons.


The National Reporting and Learning Service has developed a range of resources to help healthcare professionals communicate more effectively, both between themselves and with patients and their families.


These include:


  • Alerting all acute trusts to use a standard crash call number

  • Reporting on bleep-related incidents

  • Recommending better inter-departmental communication, for example, with radiological imaging results, or for the estates department to inform the renal unit of any changes to the water supply

  • ‘Being Open’, a policy which provides guidance for healthcare staff in talking to patients and their families after a patient safety incident


Resources relating to communication are listed below.