Trigger tool

A trigger tool is a simple checklist for a number of selected clinical ‘triggers’.  A reviewer looks for these triggers when screening medical records for patients who may have been unintentionally harmed.  To view our video on trigger tool benefits please click here.

The trigger tool facilitates the structured, focused review of a sample of medical records by primary care clinicians.  What’s more, it’s quick!  The 6 monthly reviews can take less than 2 hours.

Practices involved in the pilot of the programme have found the tool helps bring around a cultural shift in practice.  People can be resistant to the idea of change for many reasons including competing priorities, time limitations, and a ‘we already do it fine’ attitude. However, the trigger tool highlights areas for improvement – which should always improve patient safety.

In the test sites, specific changes which were made in response to issues highlighted during reviews include:

New protocol for recording adverse drug reactions
Minimum annual FBC checks for all Warfarin patients
Minimum annual Digoxin levels check
Better systems for highlighting possible drug interactions when deciding the next dose of Warfarin
Much better at coding relevant read codes
Checking that locums are familiar with practice systems for Warfarin patients

Implementing this trigger tool, developed by NHS Education for Scotland, will help you narrow down and focus on the issues within your practice, reduce patient safety incidents, and support your practice to deliver care you can be proud of.