COHSASA has launched its new Patient Safety Information System (PatSIS). 

PatSIS has two main components. There is a call centre that is linked to participating facilities via dedicated telephone lines and manned by professional healthcare staff. These COHSASA staff members are fully trained in the principles of patient safety.

The other component is a user-friendly computerised information system. This system records adverse events and near-misses and important information needed by healthcare staff to understand the seriousness of the conditions and their possible causes and to devise steps that can be carried out to reduce the extent of the harm and to prevent recurrences.

At a facility level PatSIS helps healthcare workers to “manage” incidents, in other words, to investigate, analyse and close incidents. The aim of this process is to reduce the harm caused by the incident as far as possible and to attempt to reduce further incidences from recurring.

At a regional level, PatSIS analyses the extent of patient safety problems that occur in a number of hospitals and identifies common problems that can be used to plan regional interventions to reduce harm to patients on a broad scale.

PatSIS is geared to South African conditions and will carry on the work that is proving to be helpful in dealing with adverse events in 45 facilities in the Free State Province. 

COHSASA’s experience in patient safety grew out of using an Australian incident management system called the Advanced Incident Management System (AIMS) developed by Patient Safety International, the commercial arm of the Australian Patient Safety Foundation. 

COHSASA helped the Free State Province to set up a patient safety programme across the whole province using AIMS. Unfortunately, although AIMS was successful, it was not a financial leader for its international owners who discontinued the AIMS system in 2013.

Observing all copyright laws, COHSASA took the decision to develop a local, cost-effective system for Africa. This development of PatSIS was based on experience gained from incident management and data analysis over the previous six years. 

The underlying principle of PatSIS is that all healthcare workers – including professionals – are encouraged to report any incident (adverse events and near-misses) that did or might have caused harm to a patient. Most medical error is most often the result of poor systems or individual mistakes – unless someone is reckless or criminal. The most important thing is for healthcare staff is to learn lessons from mistakes or near misses and prevent them happening again. This approach is called “just culture”. 

The new PatSIS system is now operating in the Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Namibia with a call centre based at COHSASA HQ in Cape Town.