09 Apr 2021
International journal of environmental research and public health;
BACKGROUND: To investigate any associations between new clinical policies implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic and harm to patients. METHODS: Retrospective data collection of incidents and complaints reported through Datix
, and the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), respectively. The setting was the Family Health division in a University teaching hospital in the UK. Primary and secondary outcome measures included: the proportion of incidents reported on Datix
from 23 March 2020 to 29 May 2020, compared to the period from 23 March 2019 to 29 May 2019. COVID-19 related incidents and complaints and association with newly published guidelines or pathways from 23 March 2020 to 29 May 2020 were investigated. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the proportion of overall patient activity resulting in incidents reported on Datix in 2020 (2.08%) compared to 2019 (2.09%), with 98% resulting in no/low harm in 2020. Three incident categories had increases in relative proportions of incidents including the terms "COVID" or "Corona" compared to incidents that did not: "Child death", "delay/failure to treatment and procedure" and "information governance". One of the child deaths was a miscarriage and we were unable to link the second child death to a change in clinical policy at this stage. We were only able to link two COVID-19 associated incidents with a pathway or procedural change (one to the Children's Emergency Department admission pathway and the second to the introduction of virtual antenatal clinics). Eighteen complaints related to COVID-19 were logged. However, at this stage, we are unable to link any of these to a published change in clinical policy. CONCLUSIONS: New policies introduced in the division, during the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with similar rates of clinical incidents, when compared with the previous year. There were only two COVID-19-related incidents clearly related to a change in pathways and procedures. Continued surveillance and improved metrics for monitoring the impact of changes to pathways and procedures should be sought with the sustained presence of COVID-19 in clinical areas.