Health Inquiries: Do we ever learn?


Health system inquiries are established for a variety of reasons. They can be politically motivated to establish the facts, to identify accountability and responsibility and to identify areas that can be improved to prevent further failures. Inquiries have a profound personal and professional impact on those involved. This can only be justified if some positive effect results from the inquiry.

The Douglas Inquiry (2000) was established to inquire into the provision of care at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) in Western Australia. The final report from the Inquiry detailed 237 recommendations.

Using a case study strategy this research study examined the perceptions of external stakeholders in regards to the influence of the Douglas Inquiry on the clinical governance systems at KEMH. The research focused on two area of the final Inquiry report. These were those that dealt with medical credentialing and consumer involvement in care. Documents, archives and semi-structured interviews were used to provide data for the study.

The paper reports two aspect of the study. Firstly, the results of the document and archive analysis in regards to identifying changes that have occurred post Inquiry will be presented. Secondly, these results will be compared to external stakeholders’ perceptions of changes that have occurred in the areas of the study focus.