Error Diary

On Friday I found a great website called error diary which I wanted to share on here because I really love the idea behind it. The aim of this website is to get people talking about the everyday errors that we all make so that we can start to think about errors in a new way,  instead of just beating ourselves up about them and not learning from them.  I also thought it might be of interest to those lucky people who are taking part in our research, other pharmacists and anyone interested in this area of research.

You can read all about the origins of error diary on the website, but from what I can gather it was created by some researchers at University College London – in particular, Dr Dominic Furniss. The website is supported by a grant from the EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) – this same grant also supports a huge study called CHI+MED which is looking at human error in the context of healthcare professionals’ interactions with medical devices (e.g. medicine pumps).

I should point out here that the pharmacy world is clearly aware of the work that the CHI+MED research team are carrying out because Prof Harold Thimbleby one of the members of the CHI+MED management team was presenting at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Medicines Safety Symposium today in London. I am hoping this means that he will have inspired lots more research into human error and pharmacy systems. also has a page dedicated to resilience strategies. Those things we do to help us avoid making the same error time and time again. I have developed quite a few resilience strategies whilst running our experiments, to stop me forgetting to do or say  something. I have a script that I read from when I am briefing our participants (in fairness this is just best practice for anyone running experimental studies with human participants). I also have a post-it note with all the things I need to remember to do when running the study that sits on my computer desktop (on one of those electronic post-its that you can get on windows 7). It is very useful especially because I often run two participants at the same time which can open up lots of opportunities for errors to occur. One thing the errordiary website has inspired me to do is start noting down (with their permission) all the resilience strategies that my participants tell me about in their debrief. All those things they do on a day-to-day basis in their dispensary to avoid making an error – I am also going to write my own down as and when I notice them occurring.

Now that I have found these great sites and the CHI+MED project, I am sure I will be writing more about their work in future posts.

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Ready, Set, go…

(Image courtesy of Microsoft clipart)

Well now we’re in 2012 and this is THE year for my PhD. I have until December to collect all the data I need (eeek). I can definitely feel the clock ticking and more than anything else I cannot believe I am over half-way through my PhD. Where did all that time go? More for my needs than anyone elses, below is a quick summary of what I have done in the last couple of months and what is next.

Where I have got to: The student study has been up and running for a few months, although nothing has been happening since mid-December as the students are on exams till February. However, by December I had recruited and tested 21 pharmacy students and interviewed 7 of these participants for the qualitative part of the student study. The ethics applications for the staff study have been written and will be submitted ASAP for review at the beginning of February.

What’s happening next: The students will hopefully be back at the beginning of February so recruitment and testing will start in a week or so. This time I am armed with some fancy posters to try and attract their attention. Also, the community pharmacist study will hopefully be launching in the next few weeks and I am very excited about that. The chance to take my ideas out into practice will be very cool. I am hoping as well as getting lots of participants that I will get lots of very useful feedback from community pharmacists and the other pharmacy staff about my ideas and research which will be great for my write-up next year.

Blog changes: As this blog was set up as a site where potential participants could learn more about my research I need to re-focus this blog so that it meets their needs. This has meant a little bit of reorganisation  so that there are now pages for my two groups of participants. I also decided to change the theme, decided on this calm blue one – I wonder if the colour of your blog/website affects people’s decision to participate in your research/ buy your product / read your posts? I am sure there must be some brand-based research out there that has the answer to that question. Anyway, I digress! Please bear with me if you have been reading this and things keep moving around. It will all be sorted shortly and then order will be restored (well the kind of order that exists inside my head anyway as this blog is organised in a way that makes sense to me)!

Future science leaders 2011

A few weeks ago I went to a conference at the University of Oxford – called the future science leaders conference 2011 and it was one of the main reasons that I started writing a blog. The conference was aimed at early career researchers (so PhD students and post-doc researchers) working in any aspect of science. There were a range of presentations but one was about networking and really getting your work and yourself known and out there. This was followed by an after dinner talk by nobel laureate William D Phillips who talked about his surprise that many researchers were fearful of talking about their research and ideas just in case someone else decided to jump in and use them or do the same before you managed to finish and publish the work.

I now know that this fear of being gazumped harks back to the days when Watson and Crick received the nobel prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix. Their theory was based on Rosalind Franklin’s data and findings and she had also been about to publish this idea but they got there first. Sadly and this was not Watson & Crick’s fault, the nobel prize was also awarded to W&C after Rosalind Franklin died and at the time the Nobel prize committees did not award the prize to dead researchers (Glynn, 2008).  I learnt all this after the conference when I was telling my supervisor about Prof Phillip’s ideas on being open about your research ideas. Prof William’s talk became even more interesting when I heard the Franklin, Watson and Crick story because the conference was funded by a the Rosalind Franklin award (from the Royal Society). I wonder what Rosalind Franklin herself would say about being open about one’s research. Prof Phillip’s idea was that one should publish and talk and write about the good and bad things about one’s research what worked, what didn’t because even if it helps another research team – this furthers your research field, moves it on, leaving you to get on with bigger and better things, the faster the field develops the faster your work does too.

I agree with him.. So I am now writing this blog although I know I haven’t put my ideas out there yet as I just don’t know where to start (and I am still a teensy bit apprehensive – one step at a time)!

 Glyn, J. (2008). Rosalind Franklin: 50 years on. Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 62(2), 253-255. doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2007.0052

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