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Reducing errors in veterinary practice

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‘In the Spotlight’ features bring together collections of published papers on topics of interest and importance to the veterinary professions.

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Reducing errors in veterinary practice

Published 20 April 2022 | Updated 16 February 2023

No one wants to make a mistake, and as veterinary professionals we are all aware that our mistakes can have serious consequences, not only for the animal and owner but also for members of the veterinary team. It is therefore important to take all the steps we can to minimise errors and learn from any errors or adverse events that occur.

A recent paper, published in the Veterinary Record looked at the role of communication problems in cases of alleged professional negligence reported to the Veterinary Defence Society.

Russell, E. et al (2021) Uncovering the ‘messy details’ of veterinary communication: An analysis of communication problems in cases of alleged professional negligence. Veterinary Record. 190 (3), p. e1068 The February 2022 edition of inFOCUS contains a summary of this paper.

The study highlights the role that communication problems can have on patient outcomes and complaints. It also shows that communication needs to be considered not only in the context of the vet-client consultation but in the broader context of veterinary care and the wider practice team.

As this is such an important subject, we have created this Spotlight feature to bring together published research relating to the causes and effects of error in practice and resources relating to some of the steps that we can take to reduce the risk of error occurring in veterinary practice. We have also included references that look at errors and reducing errors in specific areas of veterinary practice such as anaesthesia and surgery and the use of checklists in these areas to improve communication and reduce errors.

As with our other collections, papers are chosen for relevance and accessibility, with the full text of articles either being available through the RCVS Knowledge Library or from other publications of which a significant number of veterinary professionals are likely to have access.

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