The patient died: what about involvement in the investigation process?

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Patient and family involvement is high on the international quality and safety agenda. In this paper, we consider possible ways of involving families in investigations of fatal adverse events and how their greater participation might improve the quality of investigations. The aim is to increase awareness among healthcare professionals, accident investigators, policymakers and researchers and examine how research and practice can develop in this emerging field. In contrast to relying mainly on documentation and staff recollections, family involvement can result in the investigation having access to richer information, a more holistic picture of the event and new perspectives on who was involved and can positively contribute to the family’s emotional satisfaction and perception of justice being done. There is limited guidance and research on how to constitute effective involvement. There is a need for co-designing the investigation process, explicitly agreeing the family’s level of involvement, supporting and preparing the family, providing easily accessible user-friendly language and using different methods of involvement (e.g. individual interviews, focus group interviews and questionnaires), depending on the family’s needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-346
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number5
Early online date14 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • patient and family involvement
  • investigation
  • methods
  • research
  • practice


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