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

Accreditation of health services and its potential role towards improving health care has been described previously.13 Improving patient safety through the process of accreditation has been noted in the acute care setting.46 Further research is needed to evaluate patient safety in accreditation of primary care, its impact, and how to improve it.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed a set of standards to protect and improve the safety and quality of health care provided in general practices. These standards serve as a “template for safe and high quality care”, for the general practices that have joined an accreditation program (about 80% of practices in Australia).7 These standards are used by accreditation agencies to carry out the accreditation process through experienced surveyors who are involved in primary care. GP surveyors and co-surveyors, such as practice managers or practice nurses, carry out the accreditation process, which is approved by the agency accreditation review committee.

One of the RACGP standards is to provide a systematic approach for clinical risk management, to recognise and avoid near misses, slips, lapses or mistakes.7