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NMC code will oblige nurses to report 'near misses'


Nurses are to be required by their code of conduct to report “near misses” that could have led to patient harm and will also be required to tell patients when errors have occurred, however minor.

The measures were announced last week as part of the government’s response to the Francis report.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council will work with other regulators to agree a consistent duty to be candid with patients when mistakes occur, whether serious or not.

The regulators will also issue guidance making it clear that clinicians have a responsibility to report “near misses” that could have led to death or serious injury, as well as actual harm. The government said the move was inspired by normal practice in the airline industry.

The NMC will make clear that obstructing colleagues in being candid will be a breach of their professional codes.

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “We will work with other regulators and prepare guidance on candour around near misses.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

“We will also make clear that a professional obstructing candour or raising concerns can be a fitness to practise issue,” she added.

The government also announced a new criminal offence for wilful neglect so that managers or clinicians found “responsible for the very worst failures in care are held accountable”.


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Readers' comments (16)

  • Will this include short staffing, unsafe staffing levels, lack of training and poor management support that all, in some way, lead to poor patient care.

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  • There is no such thing as a "near miss". Plenty of near hits though.

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  • Who will come and apologise to patients, visitors and staff when a patient comes to harm or has a delay in treatment because there are not enough staff on duty to look after them properly?
    What will happen to all the incident reports that we will be putting into management?
    What action will be taken when patient safety is compromised because of staff shortages? - whether it's nursing or medical staff, we are not the only people working in the health industry - what happens when a scan, pharmacy drug or blood test is delayed leading to harm?

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  • Sounds like this could lead to more complaints, from people trying to claim compensation !!! whether a valid claim or not !

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  • I think it a reasonable for a patient to presume that if there was a near miss in which their safety had been put at risk that they'd at least be told about it. If I were a patient, I'd want to know.

    Just report absolutely everything: short-staffing, near-misses, doctors not seeing patients, violence, abuse etc etc. Report and pass it on to your manager - if you've reported it, they can't deny knowing!

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  • Is this solely down to nurses or are other health professionals obliged to do the same. This needs addressing and should be discussed across the board with other health professionals. The reporting of incidents (I agree) are very important and helps the service nurses and other health professional provide to improve. I have filled in numerous Datix forms regarding serious and non-serious incidents, a problem with the reporting is that I do not get feedback and I am unsure whether anything gets learned either for the person reporting the incident to understand processes that may have been involved or the staff who have been reported.

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  • Is short staffing going to be addressed once and for all, does anyone actually understand how this affects our patients or even care any more?
    Who do we report this to? our managers, unions, governing bodies?
    If I report late medication due to short staffing what can I expect to happen?

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  • Anonymous | 26-Nov-2013 10:49 am

    The problem is that there is currently chronic under-reporting. Nurses (and they write here regularly) constantly list how much work they do, how many breaks they miss and hours many hours they work for free. They are doing much damage by being complicit in this system. Whilst they moan, they think that acting on behalf of patients and themselves begins and ends with completing an incident form. Any nurses who do more, usually do so in isolation. If your colleagues and you ALL phoned and emailed your manager, completed incident forms after EVERY incident or situation causing concern, demanded meetings (which are minuted) with management and involved ALL the unions, then I think you would expect more to happen. However, that won't happen, because, if you are making your views known to management, then you will most likely be unsupported by colleagues. Unless and until nurses get motivated and organised to demand change, then we can expect no improvement.

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  • When we report near misses and incidents too often,we get told not to put in so many incident reports as management get fed up with dealing with them.

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  • Do the governing bodies know how many incident reports are put in by the staff? do they get sent a copy? do they know how short staffed we are?

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