Australian general practice has a key role in how the health system ensures safe and high quality care, particularly for individuals living with complex illnesses. On average, general practice provides 345,000 patient encounters and writes over 287,000 prescriptions per day. There will be a small level of adverse events associated with these consultations and prescriptions; analysis of such adverse events shows that at least half are thought to be preventable.
Understanding, recording and analysing these adverse events has not proven to be easy in general practice, which is why this Manual is so valuable. Unlike the hospital setting, the structure of general practice is such that finding dedicated resources to devote solely to safety and quality initiatives is impractical. This Manual is practical, instructive and helpful. It is not a weighty tome, which makes it attractive, but it is rich in ideas, tips and suggestions.
Reference is made to the Australian Safety and Quality Framework for Health Care, which was endorsed by Health Ministers in 2010. The vision is for safe and high quality care for all Australians, supported by three core principles. These principles are that care is consumer centred, driven by information and organised for safety.
This Manual is particularly focused on two of three core principles, through its ‘Key Concepts’ approach. The first concept, engaging the team, is the key to being organised for safety. The approach to deriving information from patient encounters can only be achieved by a practice that is organised for safety.
The information that can be gained by adopting the approaches outlined in this Manual will be invaluable. The focus on accurate patient health summaries, on clinical audit, on automated trigger tools, event logs, significant event analysis and medication reviews when considered by experienced GPs must enhance patient safety and the quality of care.
It is most heartening to read this Manual and to contemplate the benefits that will accrue to consumers of health care, wherever it is applied.