Patient Safety Strategies Considered Important but Implementation Still Lacking

Although it has been increasingly recognized that patient safety in primary care is important, little is known about the feasibility and effectiveness of different strategies to improve patient safety in primary care. In their study, Sander Gaal and colleagues fromt he Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, aimed to identify the most important strategies by consulting an international panel of primary care physicians and researchers.

A web-based survey was undertaken in an international panel of 58 individuals from eight countries with a strong primary care system. The questionnaire consisted of 38 strategies to improve patient safety. Reserchers asked the respondents whether these strategies were currently used in their own country, and whether they felt them to be important.

Most of the 38 presented strategies were seen as important by a majority of the participants, but the use of strategies in daily practice varied widely. Strategies that yielded the highest scores (>70 percent) regarding importance included a good medical record system (82 percent felt this was very important, while 83 percent said it was implemented in more than half of the practices), good telephone access (71 percent importance, 83 percent implementation), standards for record keeping (75 percent importance, 62 percent implementation), learning culture (74 percent importance, 10 percent implementation), vocational training on patient safety for GPs (81 percent importance, 24 percent implementation) and the presence of a patient safety guideline (81 percent importance, 15 percent implementation).

The researchers conclude that highly important strategies with poor implementation included a culture that is positive for patient safety, education on patient safety for physicians, and the presence of a patient safety guideline. Their research was published in BMC Health Services Research.

Reference: Gaal S, Verstappen W and Wensing M. What do primary care physicians and researchers consider the most important patient safety improvement strategies? BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:102doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-102.