Atrainability Blog

Here we share some thoughts, insights and ideas related to Human Factors Training

Human Factors Courses for Foundation Doctors

The General Medical Council has reflected the importance of recognising Human Factors in the development of generic professional capabilities for post graduate medical curricula. 

The context for this is the GMC's core guidance for all doctors, good medical practice, which sets out what is expected of doctors including communication, partnership and working with patients. (National Quality Board Human Factors Concordat 2013) 

Many Deaneries have incorporated Atrainability's Human Factors modules in their curriculum, since 2012. The list is growing year by year and the repeat bookings speak for themselves. 


Atrainability are now taking bookings for Foundation Doctors Human Factors Training for the next academic year

Human Factors is strongly recommended to become a mandatory part of Medical Education and our courses match the Medical Leadership Competency Framework.

Focus points include: 

• how and why errors are made and practical tools to avoid and trap them 

• safe decision making during a stressful day 

• situation awareness - recognising the signs that things are going wrong and dealing with that situation 

• effective escalation - overcoming the barriers to open communication and shared understanding in a high workload environment 

• dealing with difficult people including, sadly, colleagues 


We have over 6 years' experience in delivering training aimed at the next generation of healthcare professionals in a manner that is tailored to their educational needs. 

The Human Factors behaviours related to safety are crucial both for the patient and also the professional confidence within the Doctor while they are in the most high risk part of their education. 

If you have already finalised training for 2018/2019, we'd be happy to discuss your training programme for the next academic year.

Some sample feedback from recent participants: 


"Outstanding course, incredibly useful" 


"This should be mandatory! Very interesting to learn how other industries such as aviation can apply to medicine" 


"Leadership & management is crucial but often overlooked in medical training. Clear, practical advice that I can start putting into practice now." 


"Useful to receive formal teaching in things that it seems we are expected to already be aware of e.g. challenging authority. Good presentation, kept engaged throughout." 


"Important concepts to reflect on, extremely useful to be exposed to this early on in our career" 


We would be happy to discuss your individual needs at your convenience. Please contact us here.

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Human Factors & Patient Safety Updates (Aug 2018)

Free conference for NHS staff this November

We're proud to be speaking alongside Roy Lilley, Cara Charles-Barks (Salisbury NHS), Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, Mark Coooke (NHS England SW) & Dr Felix Jackson at this free to attend event on 6 November in Exeter. 

The future is uncertain. With the dawn of technology, will healthcare staff be usurped by advanced apps & artificial intelligence? What leadership strategies are in place to help NHS staff cope with the Salisbury Novichok incidents? How will joint working & mergers affect staff? 

This event explores Collaborative Networking - The Future Of Healthcare. This free conference brings you speakers from a wide spectrum of specialties. We aim to inspire & teach NHS staff from all departments as well as patients on how to adapt to systems change in a way that brings about efficiency & value. Addressing two of the fundamental themes of Future Focused Finance.

Find out more here & don't forget to follow the event organisers @nhsFFF on Twitter

Fixing a System Under Pressure

Everyone seems to say now that they have a 'Learning Culture' - but what is your SOURCE of Learning? 

The British Medical Association has recently shared some of the footage from The Future Vision for the NHS workshop ran last month. On the day around 50 members from across different parts of the medical profession came together to contribute ideas, experiences and examples to help inform the BMA's work to press for change in the NHS.

Watch a selection of videos from the event here, including 'Fixing a System Under Pressure' a short presentation from Atrainability.


Excellent Feedback from Serious Hazards of Transfusion Conference


​We were recently sent the official feedback from the SHOT blood service conference we spoke at in July. 

This year saw record numbers of delegates, which could be partly attributable to having more international delegates from the IHN meeting. 

There were 270 online submissions for the evaluation survey, which was a response rate of 85.7% (the evaluation survey was sent to 315 individuals, excluding exhibitors). 

Trevor Dale spoke at the conference about Walking the Tightrope.

The feedback on the conference was exceptionally positive, and we were very happy to receive top scores on most informative and best performance of the speakers.


Who's tweeting Human Factors...

One to follow: #learnnotblame is the fantastic campaign lead by Dr Cicely Cunningham launched by The Doctors Association UK, we'll definitely be following and supporting her progress as she raises important issues that's relevant to Human Factors values.

That's our round up of the updates from us for now, please get in touch and let's see how we can help your teams.

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A Situational Violation



Picture yourself in this situation; you're an Anaesthetist who has been called to attend to a patient who needs an emergency C-section. There's a small window to act fast and save the baby, but you notice that the patient isn't wearing an identity wristband. Would you anaesthetise?



Before we go any further, consider this similar situation before making a decision on what your course of action would be. Again, a real-life story that we've been made aware of recently. 

A small boy and his mother are rushed into a busy A&E department at an NHS Trust, the boy having been mauled by a dog. The child is quickly referred to the Trauma Team and there is no doubt that they have the right child; he's covered in blood, bite marks, screaming and the mother is upset as you'd expect. They do what needs to be done, they do their jobs, clean wounds and patch him up. Afterwards, they find out he's got the wrong wristband on. 

The hospital decides to deal with this error with disciplinary action against the Clinicians. 

Take a step back and you can see how a small mistake like this can occur. A busy department, a small boy screaming, arms flailing about…he requires urgent medical attention and it's clear what he needs; but why go straight to disciplinary action, and if not a disciplinary then how should it be dealt with? 

Treating individuals of any specialty, nursing or clinician like responsible professionals is almost guaranteed to have a much better outcome. This incident should have been approached as something to learn from, a discussion point. A team conversation in which this error is highlighted and shared. An opportunity for staff to explore all the circumstances which led to the name check being missed, to think about the likelihood that this could happen again, and then if necessary, think about steps that can reasonably be taken to avoid a repetition of this error. 

Using a risk matrix can help differentiate between low frequency events with very serious untoward outcomes and those with much less serious outcomes. And of course, the risk of not taking action must also be assessed to give a balanced perspective.


Let's think again about the mother who needed an emergency C-section. 

On this occasion, the Anaesthetist refused to anaesthetise the patient because of the missing wristband, which lead to a ten minute delay while they got a wristband on her. The result of this, was that the precious opportunity to get the baby out safe was missed. The child is now permanently brain damaged. 

The easy thing to do is blame the Anaesthetist. He or she could have acted differently, taken a risk, broken a rule to act fast and then justified his/her actions later. Or perhaps the finger of blame points at the nurse or doctor who was responsible for making sure the patient had a wristband on? 


Of course, there's other elements to muddy the waters. 

What does this individual normally do? Flout rules or routinely demonstrate good practice? Do they have previous history which led to this particular decision? Were they previously involved in, or even just exposed, to a patient misidentification that resulted in serious harm? 

Patient misidentification is known to contribute to errors and is a cause of patient safety incidents; including operating on the wrong patient, or performing the wrong procedure, or performing surgery / an intervention on the wrong body part (e.g., right vs. left knee replacement operation). 


So what's the answer here? 

It's a tragic story and an upsetting, ongoing experience for all involved. We feel however that it highlights how easy it is for leaders to unintentionally get it wrong and in doing so, stopping professionals from getting it right. 

One major factor in high risk decision making has to be whether your front line team feel safe and supported. Now, what that means to us is that a management system needs to be set up and run in such a way that makes front line staff feel safe. This must be borne out in reality, as opposed to being implied and then not acted on when the time comes;


"Well of course you're safe with us, we operate a no-blame culture"


Saying it doesn't make it true. 


Did the Anaesthesist feel safe? 

If frontline staff feel they have to protect themselves first from disciplinary action or being struck off then that's how hospitals end up with staff who will refuse to do something that in hindsight would have been the "sensible" action. The sense of covering one's own back is a normal human reaction to a perceived threat and it is a clear signal that all is not well with the system. 

If individuals and teams feel safe and supported it will reduce stress and they will feel enabled and empowered to make better decisions. This not only means better care and outcomes for patients, but also builds trust and team morale. 


Join us for the our next Masterclass in London.

Atrainability are now working alongside Quality Improvement Clinic to offer a one-day Masterclass which combines Human Factors and QI Science which will be running on 25 June 2018 in London. Read more about the masterclass here or Register for the event here.

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