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Patients’ and carers’ perceptions of safety in rural general practice

Engaging with patients to gain an in-depth understanding of their preferences, beliefs, values and contexts facilitates delivery of safe, high-quality care.1 Patient-centred care2 and being responsive to patient needs and desires is an international concept that is well recognised in the patient safety and health care quality literature.1

The importance of obtaining patients’ views about the health care they receive has been endorsed through the promotion of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners standards.3 For accreditation to the standards, practices must regularly use an approved patient feedback tool, and must have a process for receiving and managing patient complaints.3 While such feedback enables comparisons at a health system level, it does not elucidate how patients think about safety and their involvement in health care. Qualitative methods can be used to uncover the complex, multifaceted issues concerning patients’ views of safety and quality in health care.4

In Australia, there has been ample research on patient preferences regarding quality of care in general practice510 and what constitutes the major incidences and…