September 2015 | Meán Fómhair 2015

Conferring Ceremony for Graduate Diploma in Risk Management & Quality

Fri, 11 September 15 13:03

Congratulations to the graduates of our Graduate Diploma in Healthcare (Risk Management & Quality) who were conferred with their diplomas on the 8th September 2015 in the UCD Charles Institute.  The Dean of Medicine and Head of School, Professor Patrick Murray presented diplomas to a total of 16 students who have completed this highly successful programme.  In addition, three students have also completed Masters Degrees and were conferred in June 2015.

A total of 374 people have now completed this innovative Clinical Risk Management & Quality programme since its inception in 1995.  The course was designed and delivered by the UCD Forensic & Legal Medicine group led by Professor Denis Cusack with support from national and international experts in the field.  Many of the programme participants are employed in various roles relating to patient safety and law including senior clinical risk management or quality functions across the Irish health service as well as healthcare professionals, and legal practitioners and those involved in claims management.  The programme enjoys the support of a number of statutory bodies and stakeholders who also act as lecturers and examiners on the course, including the State Claims Agency (SCA), the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Medical Council of Ireland.

Dr Peter Lachman, Mr Asim Sheikh and Prof Pat Murray at the UCD Forensic & Legal Medicine conferring ceremony in Sept 2015

From left to right: Dr Peter Lachman, Mr Asim Sheikh and Professor Patrick Murray

The master of ceremonies for the evening was Academic Programme Co-ordinator, Mr Asim Sheikh (Barrister-at-Law and UCD Lecturer in Forensic & Legal Medicine) whose practice and work specialises in clinical negligence and medical/healthcare law.  The academic conferring group also comprised Prof Denis Cusack (Professor of Forensic and Legal Medicine) and Dr Cliona McGovern (UCD Lecturer in Forensic and Legal Medicine) assisted by Ms Bríd McCormack (Programme Administrator).  The event was also attended by other stakeholders and supporters, in particular, Mr. Phelim Quinn (CEO, Health Information & Quality Authority) and Ms. Ann O’Driscoll (Partner at DAC Beachcroft Solicitors), who lectures and acts as examiner on various parts of the course.

Opening proceedings, Professor Cusack congratulated the assembled graduands and commended the group for the dedication, commitment and persistence that each student brought to this part-time programme. He pointed to the considerable and continued demand for the course; indicative of the increasing focus on patient safety and managing risk and quality in our healthcare systems and highlighted how the emphasis has changed from defensive risk management to proactive patient safety and quality assurance. 

Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery, Head of Clinical Risk at the State Claims Agency presented a bursary prize to the top student in the programme, Ms Gillian Nuttall for her project entitled: “Medication Review - a Multidisciplinary Approach in a Nursing Home”. 

A keynote address to the new graduates was given by Dr Peter Lachman, Deputy Medical Director (Patient Safety) at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust who is also external academic examiner on the programme.  Dr Lachman is a Fellow of Quality Improvement at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is the Quality Improvement Lead for the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) and the national lead for the HSE/RCPI National Quality Improvement Programme.  Drawing on his own personal experience of an incident of patient harm early in his medical career, Dr Lachman gave a thought-provoking talk where he questioned if it was sufficient for a doctor to ‘do no harm’.  Highlighting how medical errors can occur due to inherent system faults, he noted that quality systems which were commanded from on high were doomed to failure and patient harm is inevitable in circumstances where such systems are deprived of essential resources.  He emphasised the need for a cultural change and provocatively asked if our systems were appropriately designed and indeed fit for purpose.  In advocating for a culture of trust, openness, support and transparency, Dr Lachman offered ten reflections based on his experience as a doctor and a healthcare administrator.

  1. Transparency and openness are essential if we are to learn from mistakes and he encouraged the publishing of patient outcomes in each hospital.
  2. Patient treatment needs to be integrated and coordinated across the healthcare continuum and centred on the needs of the patient rather than the needs of the practitioner or resource management.
  3. Evaluation of healthcare performance should be designed to get first hand assessment from patient and their families, the individuals most invested in the procedure outcome.
  4. Dr Lachman also noted that we need to care for the caregivers to avoid burnout which is regularly now reported at 50% but as to avoid the consequences of fatigue which contributes so much medical error.
  5. Practitioners need to standardise care and continuously assess performance against best in class so that best practice is diffused quickly to all care settings.
  6. All involved in the healthcare system must advocate and provide leadership for change to happen.  Noting that while it is often assumed that quality has resource cost implications, in reality, quality consumes leadership and ultimately is the most cost-effective approach.
  7. Dr Lachman advocated that authority should be delegated to those providing care to empower them to make the necessary process improvements rather than seeking to impose quality through regulation which are less likely to be adopted.
  8. We should identify positive deviance – those who deliver better outcomes than their peers despite many of the same obstacles – and learn from how these individuals perform better than the average.
  9. Echoing a point made by Prof Cusack in his opening remarks, Dr Lachman observed that we need to move away from reactive risk management or containment (safety 1) to also embracing proactive evaluations of how we get things right (safety 2)
  10. Finally, in a challenge to the Dean, Dr Lachman noted that we must embed quality as a core and fundamental discipline within our undergraduate medicine programmes.

The School was delighted to have Dr Lachman as keynote speaker.  He follows in a line of distinguished speakers in previous years which have included:

  • Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health & Children
  • Ms Mary Harney TD, Minister for Health & Children
  • Prof Sir John Lilleyman, UK National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA)
  • Hon. Judge Maureen Harding Clarke, Chair, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Inquiry
  • Prof Deirdre Madden, Chair, Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance
  • Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive, Health Information & Quality Authority
  • Prof Freddie Woods, President, Medical Council of Ireland

Bringing the meeting to a close, both Asim Sheikh and Prof Cusack noted that this particular cohort had differentiated themselves by how engaged and communicative they were as a class.  The graduates were encouraged to continue being powerful advocates within their organisation for the culture change advocated by Dr Lachman in his address.  We were also delighted to welcome families and friends of the graduating class and thank them for their support to our students during their studies.

Programme Coordinator Mr Asim Sheikh announced details of the new Professional Certificate in Medico-legal Aspects of Healthcare which will commence its intake in September 2016.  This programme is ideal for those who might not be able to commit to a graduate diploma and wish to gain further knowledge of core medico-legal issues in healthcare. The Certificate offers the opportunity to progress to the Graduate Diploma and then the Masters degree.

Course Enquiries

Graduate Diploma in Healthcare (Risk Management & Quality)

MSc in Healthcare (Risk Management & Quality)

Professional Certificate in Medico-Legal Aspects of Healthcare


Further enquiries to:

Ms Brid McCormack

Forensic & Legal Medicine

UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science

t: + 353 1 716 6647