Like many important safety initiatives, Prompt came out of a disaster.
A young patient died in a small rural hospital in the South West region. The Coroner concluded that treatment had been suboptimal and highlighted the absence of clinical protocols available to staff in the small hospital.
The Health Department responded to the report by inviting a solution that would help smaller hospitals obtain and maintain clinical guidelines and that would ensure that these were readily available, up to date and consistent with those in larger institutions.
As we considered solutions it quickly became evident that this might be an opportunity to address significant issues that bedevilled protocol management in larger hospitals at that time. Back then, different hospital departments independently maintained their own protocols (which were generally paper based, kept somewhere in a ring binder).
There was great variation in guidance between departments and users often didn’t know where to look. Written protocols were often years out of date. Coordinating and managing protocols in this disjointed system was difficult, frustrating and time consuming.
Prompt offered the solution to all of these problems. Development was supported by the South-West Regional Health Department. Prompt was first implemented at Barwon Health and subsequently across the Barwon South West region. Many hospitals and healthcare bodies have now adopted it across Victoria and interstate.
Ready access to good reliable clinical guidance is fundamental for safe health care, but it is also important that staff feel supported in their workplace by provision of guidance that makes what is expected of them clear and accessible.