"Accountability" is the suitcase word in Canadian healthcare. As policy-makers, managers, researchers and providers, we pack accountability with meaning, carry it around with us and open it up to explain everything from the quality of our relationships with and expectations of one another, to our requirements for more transparency in the use of resources, to our diagnosis of problems and remedies for improving our healthcare system.
In October 1993, a survey of health care agency administrators was undertaken shortly after they had experienced two sudden reductions in public funding. The purpose of this investigation was to gain insight into the role of ethics in health administrator decision making. A mail questionnaire was designed for this purpose. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to summarize the data. Staff reductions and bed closures were the two most frequently reported mechanisms for addressing the funding reductions. Most administrators did not believe that these changes would have a negative public impact. In contrast, the majority indicated that future changes in reaction to additional funding reductions would have a negative public impact. Approximately one-third of the administrators reported ethics to be an element of recent administrative decision making, and one-half could foresee that ethics would be important in the future if reductions continued. These findings are discussed in relation to ethics. Issues for additional research are outlined.
Priority setting in health care is a challenge because demand for services exceeds available resources. The increasing demand for less invasive surgical procedures by patients, health care institutions and industry, places added pressure on surgeons to acquire the appropriate skills to adopt innovative procedures. Such innovations are often initiated and introduced by surgeons in the hospital setting. Decision-making processes for the adoption of surgical innovations in hospitals have not been well studied and a standard process for their introduction does not exist. The purpose of this study is to describe and evaluate the decision-making process for the adoption of a new technology for repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms (endovascular aneurysm repair [EVAR]) in an academic health sciences centre to better understand how decisions are made for the introduction of surgical innovations at the hospital level.
A qualitative case study of the decision to adopt EVAR was conducted using a modified thematic analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews. Accountability for Reasonableness was used as a conceptual framework for fairness in priority setting processes in health care organizations.
There were two key decisions regarding EVAR: the decision to adopt the new technology in the hospital and the decision to stop hospital funding. The decision to adopt EVAR was based on perceived improved patient outcomes, safety, and the surgeons' desire to innovate. This decision involved very few stakeholders. The decision to stop funding of EVAR involved all key players and was based on criteria apparent to all those involved, including cost, evidence and hospital priorities. Limited internal communications were made prior to adopting the technology. There was no formal means to appeal the decisions made.
The analysis yielded recommendations for improving future decisions about the adoption of surgical innovations. ese empirical findings will be used with other case studies to help develop guidelines to help decision-makers adopt surgical innovations in Canadian hospitals.
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A culture of safety in healthcare will not be achieved until the fragmentation that currently characterizes the delivery system is replaced by an alignment of the many component parts, including providers, patients and their families and front-line workers on the "sharp end'--physicians, nurses and pharmacists. A systemic approach should be introduced that would recognize the interacting nature of the delivery system's component parts, and that a change in one component of the system will provoke a change in another part. Consumers and their families can be empowered through programs that raise awareness, prevent error and mitigate its effect when error does happen. Within the system, the "safety sciences' can provide guides to effective work processes. Finally, it is critical to capture knowledge of what type of error occurs in what place and to elucidate strategies to prevent the error.
The aim was to develop a theoretical understanding of the decision-making process leading to appendectomy. A qualitative interview study was performed in the grounded theory tradition using the constant comparative method to analyze data. The study setting was one county hospital and two local hospitals in Sweden, where 11 surgeons and 15 surgical nurses were interviewed. A model was developed which suggests that surgeons' decision making regarding appendectomy is formed by the interplay between their medical assessment of the patient's condition and a set of contextual characteristics. The latter consist of three interacting factors: (1) organizational conditions, (2) the professional actors' individual characteristics and interaction, and (3) the personal characteristics of the patient and his or her family or relatives. In case the outcome of medical assessment is ambiguous, the risk evaluation and final decision will be influenced by an interaction of the contextual characteristics. It was concluded that, compared to existing, rational models of decision making, the model presented identified potentially important contextual characteristics and an outline on when they come into play.
The first reengineering project undertaken by the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre after adopting a philosophy of patient-focused care was the introduction of a new category of worker: the multi-skilled service assistant. This article describes the experiences of the first two cohorts of service assistants and assesses the changes made to the work itself and the integration of the new workers into the work environment. It concludes by sharing recommendations for introducing a new work role.
To apply Karasek's Job Content Model to an analysis of the relationships between job type and perceived stress and stress behaviors in a large company during a period of reorganization and downsizing.
Cross-sectional mail-out, mail-back survey.
A large Canadian telephone/telecommunications company.
Stratified random sample (stratified by job category) of 2200 out of 13,000 employees with a response rate of 48.8%.
Responses to 25 of Karasek's core questions were utilized to define four job types: low-demand and high control = "relaxed"; high demand and high control = "active"; low demand and low control = "passive", and high demand and low control = "high strain." These job types were compared against self-reported stress levels, perceived general level of health, absenteeism, alcohol use, exercise level, and use of medications and drugs. Similar analyses were performed to assess the influence of shift work.
Employees with "passive" or "high strain" job types reported higher levels of stress (trend test p