Patient safety in primary health care – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – August 2010

Posted on August 18, 2010. Filed under: General Practice, Patient Safety, Primary Hlth Care | Tags: |

Patient safety in primary health care – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – August 2010

Discussion Paper – Draft for Public Consultation

“The field of patient safety emerged following Australian and international research showing that a large number of harmful, but potentially preventable, incidents occur in hospitals.1-3 This was emphasised by a number of high profile inquiries into incidents at specific hospitals.4-5 These origins mean that the focus of early patient safety work was mostly on issues that were particularly relevant for acute care settings, and there has been little examination of the patient safety risks that exist in primary health care.

However, most health care in Australia is provided in primary health care settings. Almost one in five people visit a general practitioner (GP), and one in ten visit an allied health professional in any given two week period.6 Given the size and importance of this sector, it is essential that the care provided in it is safe, and that risks of unnecessary harm associated with the delivery of health care are minimised.

There are a large number of organisations that have a role in quality and safety in primary health care in Australia, and many programs and initiatives are in place to improve care provided in this sector. One of these organisations is the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), which was established in 2005 to lead and coordinate improvements in safety and quality nationally.

The purpose of this paper is to stimulate discussion about patient safety in primary health care in Australia. The Commission wants to raise awareness of these issues, and supports coordinated national action to address them. Improving patient safety in primary health care requires a new approach and new thinking that includes a greater emphasis on safety and prevention from harm.

The Commission would like to work with primary health care stakeholders to identify priority areas for improving safety, and to take action to address these priorities. The development of this paper and subsequent consultation process is the first step in this process and the outcomes of the consultation will be used to guide the Commission’s actions to support patient safety in primary health care.”

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