How can we reduce Serious Adverse Incidents in Clinical Practice using Aviation Safety Frameworks? An Action Research Project

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Prof Neal Cook  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


A Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) is a term defined as any event or circumstance that either resulted in or had the potential to lead to unintended or unforeseen harm, loss, or damage (Department of Health, 2023). Serious Adverse Incidents (SAI) are a common concern in healthcare, representing unexpected and often severe patient outcomes stemming from medical care, procedures, or interventions. These incidents may occur despite the dedicated efforts of healthcare professionals and the presence of high-quality healthcare systems. Healthcare organisations work to reduce the frequency of SAIs through ongoing enhancements in care delivery with a focus on patient safety. Nevertheless, further research is essential in this domain to enhance the overall quality and safety of patient care.

According to Downey (2019) human error is an aspect of life. However, the impact is greater when working in a safety critical industry. Two such industries are aviation and healthcare, although their approach to managing error is completely different. Aviation has a three-stage approach to managing error. Downey (2019) argues that this approach is relevant and indeed transferable to healthcare and could potentially be equally successful there.


To reduce Serious Adverse Incidents in Clinical Practice using the principles of Aviation Safety Frameworks


1.        Identify the trends in SAIs in inpatient hospitals settings within a Healthcare Trust in Northern Ireland.

2.        Work with stakeholders including clinicians to identify the potential reduction in SAIs using lessons learnt in Aviation Health and Safety frameworks.

3.        Implement strategies of aviation safety frameworks and evaluate their effectiveness for adaptation 


Inpatient hospital settings within the Western Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland


An Action Research approach will be used

Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27)


Downey, D 2023. Oops! Why Things Go Wrong: Understanding and Controlling Error. Dublin: Liffey publishers.
Kapur, N., Parand, A., Soukup, T., Reader, T., & Sevdalis, N. (2015). Aviation and healthcare: a comparative review with implications for patient safety. JRSM open, 7(1), 2054270415616548.
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority. 2022. RQIA Review of Systems and Processes for learning from Serious Adverse Incidents in Northern Ireland. Belfast: RQIA DH.
Waterson P, Catchpole K. 2016. Human factors in healthcare: welcome progress, but still scratching the surface. BMJ Quality & Safety 25:480-484.

 About the Project