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The impact of delegation and supervision on improving patient safety

15 Sep 2014, by Informa Insights

Sally and Menna, Health Education & Learning Partnerships

Sally Sutherland-Fraser, Education Consultant and Founding Partner, Health Education and Learning Partnerships spoke at the 6th Annual Operating Theatre Management Conference last month.

Sally and her colleague Menna Davies, Perioperative Education Consultant and Co-founder of Health Education & Learning Partnerships,  bring together considerable educational experience and clinical nursing expertise to provide consultancy services for the healthcare industry.

We had the chance to meet with Sally to talk about the importance of delegation and supervision and improving patient safety, and here is what she had to say:

Changes within the health workforce mean that regulation of health professions is constantly evolving. As a nurse consultant in many busy perioperative settings, I’ve developed an interest in regulation, in particular the core concepts of nursing scopes of practice, delegation and supervision. Each plays an important role in protecting the safety of the public.

It seems that these core concepts are not widely understood, as recent legal cases suggest that patient outcomes may be affected by inappropriate delegations or inadequate supervision.

This concern prompted me recently to present a paper titled “Delegation and supervision: Implications for managers” at the Informa’s 6th Operating Theatre Management conference in Sydney. My paper highlighted the Decision-Making Framework resources on the new Nurses and Midwives Board of Australia (NMBA) website, which support nurses and midwives to make safe and lawful delegations of care. This decision-making process asks whether the activity is within the current scope of nursing practice, whether it’s appropriate to delegate this activity to another person and if so, who is best able to perform this activity.

It’s increasingly important we understand the principles of delegation because some perioperative teams include ancillary workers as well as registered nurses and enrolled nurses. These teams need support and guidance to ensure that delegations of care are safe and lawful. It’s also true that

  • We work in a demanding and constantly evolving system
  • We can’t provide all of the care ourselves
  • The physical environment sometimes requires separation of the team; and
  • We need to match the team’s skills with specific patient requirements

Astute managers can also use delegations to develop and build the capabilities of their staff.

You can find out more about perioperative practice and patient safety by visiting  or reading Sally and Menna’s blog.

Sally’s presentation at the 6th Annual Operating Theatre Management Conference is also available for viewing:

[slideshare id=38474635&w=427&h=356&style=border: 1px solid #CCC; border-width: 1px; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;&sc=no]

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