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Surveyors’ perceptions of the impact of accreditation on patient safety in general practice

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In reply: We appreciate Philip’s interest in our article and share her concern for the efficiency of clinical risk management — 45%–76% of adverse events in primary care are avoidable.1 There have been attempts to describe near misses, errors and harm in general practice, through accreditation using well evolved Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards, but there is no systematic mechanism to report, analyse and prevent adverse events in general practice.

Based on interviews with general practice staff2 and accreditation surveyors,3 literature review, and consultations with international and national experts on patient safety,4 a patient safety collaborative manual with an automated trigger tool has now been developed.5 This manual is intended to be used by the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program to improve patient safety in Australian general practice. It covers the major change concepts of engaging the team, data quality, identifying harm and preventing harm.

With this manual available, now is the time for action in a journey towards safer care through changing culture and creating a systematic approach to capturing, analysing and preventing harm in general practice.