Lining Up: How is harm measured?

Lining Up: How is harm measured?

Author: The Health Foundation

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This learning report looks at lessons from the Health Foundation’s Lining Up research project – an investigation into interventions to reduce central line infections.

The report describes findings that have important implications for measurement of performance, and using measurement to improve quality and ensure patient safety.

By observing implementation of a nationally organised infection control programme, the Lining Up research team discovered how organisations go about interpreting data definitions, collecting data and reporting results.

Apparently straightforward measurement tasks were found to be highly complex and subject to a range of human factors that rendered them so inconsistent as to undermine comparisons between organisations. This implies that policy makers need to be cautious about attaching incentives and penalties to findings reported for performance management purposes.

The project also demonstrates that, without a standardised approach and excellent data collection, quality improvement initiatives will fail to change culture or behaviour.

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