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The value of consultant-led ward rounds for patient safety

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Recent studies show that regular consultant-led ward rounds can enhance patient safety and improve outcomes

In 2008, the Special Commission of Inquiry into Acute Care Services in New South Wales public hospitals, which focused on patient safety and quality of care, led to the recommendation, in the Garling report, that “Daily multi-disciplinary ward rounds should be introduced at which accurate and complete notes are taken which are approved by the supervising doctor within a specified time frame”.1 Subsequently, the NSW Department of Health published a document aimed at helping hospitals and clinical units implement the recommendations in the Garling report.2 Despite the recommendations and this response, it is widely asserted that the frequency of, breadth of staff participation in and significance of ward rounds for patient management have diminished in many public teaching hospitals in NSW over the past few years. However, we have been unable to find evidence supporting this contention. Paradoxically, there is broad agreement on the educational value of rounds in disseminating information and in professional mentorship at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Following publication of the Garling report, the question of whether there was adequate evidence that its proposals would achieve the desired outcomes in quality of care, patient…