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Jonny Taitz: Patient Safety at DFTB17


This talk was recorded live on the final day of DFTB17 in Brisbane.

Dr Jonny Taitz is a specialist General Paediatrician in private practice in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. For this talk, he is the Director of Paediatric Patient Safety for the Clinical Excellence Commission.  In this guise, he talks about the key work the CEC does to improve the quality and safety of healthcare provided to our young population. If you are not already doing so, you should look at their Paediatric Watch newsletters.

Patient safety is a paramount concern in medicine, with healthcare providers continually striving to provide the best possible care while minimizing the risks associated with medical interventions. In a thought-provoking talk at DFTB17, Dr Johnny Taitz delves into the intricacies of patient safety, sharing insights and data from the healthcare system in New South Wales, Australia.

The Wiggles Connection

As a Jewish doctor, Johnny used to work at the children’s hospital during Christmas to ensure that those celebrating the holiday could be with their families. The Wiggles, a renowned Australian children’s music group, would visit the hospital on Christmas Day to bring cheer to the young patients.

Johnny and the Wiggles

The Challenge of Public Perception

Dr Taitz addressed the challenges posed by sensationalized media coverage of healthcare incidents. Media outlets tend to exaggerate and sensationalize healthcare issues, undermining public confidence in the healthcare system. Maintaining a balanced perspective is essential and recognising that, while adverse events can occur, the overall healthcare system’s performance is more reliable than sensationalized reports might suggest.

Patient Safety Data: A Clearer Picture

With almost 2 million admissions and over 6 million bed days per year, New South Wales faces significant demands on its healthcare system. However, the data indicates that the system is safer than public perception might imply.

Dr Taitz presented several critical insights from the data, emphasizing the significance of recognizing trends and addressing challenges. Here are some of the key findings:

  1. Focus on Mental Health: There has been a notable increase in incidents involving adolescent mental health patients. This points to the pressing need for a holistic approach to mental health care, as these patients face unique challenges that demand comprehensive solutions.
  2. Sepsis Recognition: Failure to recognize and respond to sepsis emerged as a significant risk factor. Addressing this issue is crucial, as early recognition and treatment of sepsis can be life-saving.
  3. Pediatric Sepsis Collaborative: Dr Taitz shared plans for a national pediatric sepsis collaborative, drawing inspiration from successful efforts in the US. This collaboration aims to improve sepsis outcomes through evidence-based approaches and expert input.
  4. Communication and Transparency: Open disclosure and effective communication with families were emphasized. Families affected by adverse events typically seek apologies, explanations, and a commitment to preventing future occurrences.

Challenges in Mental Health Care

The healthcare system’s structure often leads to complications in managing physical and mental health conditions simultaneously. A lack of seamless integration between pediatric and mental health services can hinder effective care delivery. We need a complete rethink of the approach to adolescent mental health care to ensure patients receive the holistic care they need.

A Call for Continuous Improvement

Patient safety is a continuous journey. The goal is not only to maintain a safe environment but also to actively seek opportunities for improvement. Collaboration, data-driven insights, open communication, and patient-centred care are key components of a successful patient safety strategy.

As healthcare providers, our commitment to patient safety shapes the foundation of our practice and underscores our dedication to compassionate care.

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