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    Rights statement: This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Ethics, 2022 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ medethics-2022-108328

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    Rights statement: This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Ethics, 2022 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme-2022-108328

    Accepted author manuscript, 562 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Organisational failure: rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow’s doctors

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Organisational failure : rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow’s doctors. / Taylor, Daniel James; Goodwin, Dawn.

In: Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 48, No. 10, 31.10.2022, p. 672-677.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

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Taylor DJ, Goodwin D. Organisational failure: rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow’s doctors. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2022 Oct 31;48(10):672-677. Epub 2022 Jul 8. doi: 10.1136/ medethics-2022-108328, 10.1136/jme-2022-108328

Author

Taylor, Daniel James ; Goodwin, Dawn. / Organisational failure : rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow’s doctors. In: Journal of Medical Ethics. 2022 ; Vol. 48, No. 10. pp. 672-677.

Bibtex

@article{eabc1d53d25446dea26e85599feca938,
title = "Organisational failure: rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow{\textquoteright}s doctors",
abstract = "The duty to protect patient welfare underpins undergraduate medical ethics and patient safety teaching. The current syllabus for patient safety emphasises the significance of organisational contribution to healthcare failures. However, the ongoing over-reliance on whistleblowing disproportionately emphasises individual contributions, alongside promoting a culture of blame and defensiveness among practitioners. Diane Vaughan's 'Normalisation of Deviance' (NoD) provides a counterpoise to such individualism, describing how signals of potential danger are collectively misinterpreted and incorporated into the accepted margins of safe operation. NoD is an insidious process that often goes unnoticed, thus minimising the efficacy of whistleblowing as a defence against inevitable disaster. In this paper, we illustrate what can be learnt by greater attention to the collective, organisational contributions to healthcare failings by applying NoD to The Morecambe Bay Investigation. By focusing on a cluster of five 'serious untoward incidents' occurring in 2008, we describe a cycle of NoD affecting trust handling of events that allowed poor standards of care to persist for several years, before concluding with a poignant example of the limitations of whistleblowing, whereby the raising of concerns by a senior consultant failed to generate a response at trust board level. We suggest that greater space in medical education is needed to develop a thorough understanding of the cultural and organisational processes that underpin healthcare failures, and that medical education would benefit from integrating the teaching of medical ethics and patient safety to resolve the tension between systems approaches to safety and the individualism of whistleblowing.",
keywords = "obstetrics, truth disclosure, education",
author = "Taylor, {Daniel James} and Dawn Goodwin",
note = "This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Ethics, 2022 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme-2022-108328",
year = "2022",
month = oct,
day = "31",
doi = "10.1136/ medethics-2022-108328",
language = "English",
volume = "48",
pages = "672--677",
journal = "Journal of Medical Ethics",
issn = "0306-6800",
publisher = "BMJ Publishing Group",
number = "10",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Organisational failure

T2 - rethinking whistleblowing for tomorrow’s doctors

AU - Taylor, Daniel James

AU - Goodwin, Dawn

N1 - This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Ethics, 2022 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme-2022-108328

PY - 2022/10/31

Y1 - 2022/10/31

N2 - The duty to protect patient welfare underpins undergraduate medical ethics and patient safety teaching. The current syllabus for patient safety emphasises the significance of organisational contribution to healthcare failures. However, the ongoing over-reliance on whistleblowing disproportionately emphasises individual contributions, alongside promoting a culture of blame and defensiveness among practitioners. Diane Vaughan's 'Normalisation of Deviance' (NoD) provides a counterpoise to such individualism, describing how signals of potential danger are collectively misinterpreted and incorporated into the accepted margins of safe operation. NoD is an insidious process that often goes unnoticed, thus minimising the efficacy of whistleblowing as a defence against inevitable disaster. In this paper, we illustrate what can be learnt by greater attention to the collective, organisational contributions to healthcare failings by applying NoD to The Morecambe Bay Investigation. By focusing on a cluster of five 'serious untoward incidents' occurring in 2008, we describe a cycle of NoD affecting trust handling of events that allowed poor standards of care to persist for several years, before concluding with a poignant example of the limitations of whistleblowing, whereby the raising of concerns by a senior consultant failed to generate a response at trust board level. We suggest that greater space in medical education is needed to develop a thorough understanding of the cultural and organisational processes that underpin healthcare failures, and that medical education would benefit from integrating the teaching of medical ethics and patient safety to resolve the tension between systems approaches to safety and the individualism of whistleblowing.

AB - The duty to protect patient welfare underpins undergraduate medical ethics and patient safety teaching. The current syllabus for patient safety emphasises the significance of organisational contribution to healthcare failures. However, the ongoing over-reliance on whistleblowing disproportionately emphasises individual contributions, alongside promoting a culture of blame and defensiveness among practitioners. Diane Vaughan's 'Normalisation of Deviance' (NoD) provides a counterpoise to such individualism, describing how signals of potential danger are collectively misinterpreted and incorporated into the accepted margins of safe operation. NoD is an insidious process that often goes unnoticed, thus minimising the efficacy of whistleblowing as a defence against inevitable disaster. In this paper, we illustrate what can be learnt by greater attention to the collective, organisational contributions to healthcare failings by applying NoD to The Morecambe Bay Investigation. By focusing on a cluster of five 'serious untoward incidents' occurring in 2008, we describe a cycle of NoD affecting trust handling of events that allowed poor standards of care to persist for several years, before concluding with a poignant example of the limitations of whistleblowing, whereby the raising of concerns by a senior consultant failed to generate a response at trust board level. We suggest that greater space in medical education is needed to develop a thorough understanding of the cultural and organisational processes that underpin healthcare failures, and that medical education would benefit from integrating the teaching of medical ethics and patient safety to resolve the tension between systems approaches to safety and the individualism of whistleblowing.

KW - obstetrics

KW - truth disclosure

KW - education

U2 - 10.1136/ medethics-2022-108328

DO - 10.1136/ medethics-2022-108328

M3 - Journal article

C2 - 35803713

VL - 48

SP - 672

EP - 677

JO - Journal of Medical Ethics

JF - Journal of Medical Ethics

SN - 0306-6800

IS - 10

ER -