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dc.contributor.authorMakeham, Meredith Anne Blatt
dc.date.accessioned2008-11-20
dc.date.available2008-11-20
dc.date.issued2008-11-20
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/2123/3899
dc.description.abstractThe importance of better understanding error and safety in the community setting is widely accepted, with recent calls to promote efforts and improve resources in this area of research (Jacobson, Elwyn et al. 2003). The measurement of patient safety events in primary care is a relatively under-researched area and it is well recognized that there are large gaps in the research describing patient safety in ambulatory settings (Hammons, Piland et al. 2003). Attitudes towards embracing safety event measurement have improved in recent years, however there remains a substantial amount of work to be done before common standards can be recommended, despite recent calls in the scientific literature for national and international systems (Runciman, Williamson et al. 2006). This thesis describes the Threats to Australian Patient Safety (TAPS) study, which aimed to create a secure anonymous web-based error reporting system suited to the Australian general practice setting, and then describe and quantify the errors reported by a representative random sample of Australian general practitioners. The study was made possible with the support of funding from a National Health and Medical Research Council project grant, and also gained support from NSW Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging in the form of granting qualified privilege and providing essential Medicare data under legal instrument. The study methodology involved the development of a database management system which created an electronic method for managing and analysing a wide variety of vii features related to large numbers of anonymously reported errors from Australian general practice. A representative random sample of 84 general practitioners (GPs) from New South Wales (NSW) participated in the study, with over 400 errors reported in a 12 month period. The key messages arising from the TAPS study were: • GPs embraced anonymous patient safety event reporting using a secure website, with the majority of study participants making reports • New findings from this study on the incidence of reported error in general practice were published in the scientific literature, which will help guide the design of future error reporting systems • A new taxonomy to describe reported error from GPs was developed as part of this study and published in the scientific literature, with the view of allowing future self-coding of reported patient safety events by GPs The TAPS study presented the first calculations known worldwide of the incidence of reported error in a general practice setting using a representative random sample of general practitioners. It was found that if an anonymous, secure, web-based reporting system was provided, approximately 2 errors were reported by general practitioners per 1000 patients seen per year (Makeham, Kidd et al. 2006). In addition, the study created a simple descriptive general practice based error taxonomy, entitled the TAPS taxonomy (see Appendix 10) (Makeham, Stromer et al. 2007), and was the first study to test the reproducibility of the application of such a viii tool using a group of general practitioners. The TAPS taxonomy developed as part of this study was found to have a good level of inter-coder agreement. With respect to the underlying causes of errors, the TAPS study found that the majority of reported patient safety events were errors related to the processes of health care (70%), rather than errors related to the knowledge and skills of health professionals (30%). Most errors reported in the TAPS study had the direct involvement of a patient (93% of error reports). Overall the reporting general practitioners were very familiar with these patients, who were on average 52 years old, and more often female (56%). Around one quarter of the errors reported was associated with patients being harmed. Reports containing events related to processes of health care were associated less with harm than those containing events related to the knowledge and skills of health professionals. The patients in errors associated with patient harm reported in the TAPS study were on average older than patients in reports where no harm was known to have occurred (58 years versus 50 years respectively). There was no statistically significant difference found between these groups with respect to gender or ethnicity, including people from Non-English speaking backgrounds or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples, although the association with the latter group approached statistical significance. ix Cases of patient death were reported in 8 of 415 errors reported in the TAPS study (2%), and more often involved events relating to the knowledge and skills of health professionals than events relating to the processes of health care compared to reports not involving a known patient death. In support of suggestions in the scientific literature about the importance of anonymity as a feature of an error reporting system, a feedback interview found that an anonymous reporting system was a factor which made participants more likely to report error events, with two thirds of participants agreeing that anonymity made them more likely to participate in reporting. The majority of participants found the reporting process easy to undertake, and took approximately 6 minutes to send a report. The study provided a self directed learning educational activity for participating general practitioners that was approved for 30 group 1 Quality Assurance and Continuing Education points by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). An important practical outcome of the TAPS study was that it highlighted a systematic error relating to immunisation failures with meningococcal vaccines which was reported to relevant organisations including NSW Health, the RACGP and the manufacturer involved, which was addressed with educational materials for GPs being distributed and communication in Australian Family Physician. x There are further analyses that could be undertaken using the TAPS data to improve our understanding of the errors reported, such as further statistical analyses using techniques such as building a model with multiple regression to determine significant factors that contribute to different error types. This work was beyond the scope of the TAPS study aims, but is part of further research recommendations. In addition, future studies should address aspects of patient safety and reported error that it would not be possible to capture from the perspective of the reporting GP. Rather than one taxonomy which describes the reported errors from the GP’s perspective in the way that the TAPS taxonomy does, it may be useful to develop a series of interlinked taxonomies that are directed to the needs of differing constituencies, such as the organisation providing health funds or the health insurer, the health regulators and legislators, and the patients or their significant others. The assessment of potential and actual harms sustained by patients involved in reported errors is a further area of patient safety research that is difficult to comprehensively assess, and existing reporting systems in the literature, whilst addressing this from the reporter’s perspective, require further work to improve the accuracy by which harm is measured and correlated with other data sets such as those managed by health insurers, and the experiences of people who are the subject of the reports. The TAPS study presents a number of new findings about the nature of error and threats to patient safety that arise in the Australian health care environment, reported by a representative sample of general practitioners, and it is hoped that these will be xi useful to all stakeholders in the health care setting, from clinicians, through to policy makers, and most importantly the patients who are the subject of the potentially preventable harms and near misses that are highlighted in this thesisen
dc.rightsThe author retains copyright of this thesis.
dc.rights.urihttp://www.library.usyd.edu.au/copyright.html
dc.subjectPatient Safetyen
dc.subjectGeneral Practiceen
dc.subjectIncident reportingen
dc.titleThe Measurement of Threats to Patient Safety in Australian General Practiceen
dc.typeThesisen_AU
dc.date.valid2008-01-01en
dc.type.thesisDoctor of Philosophyen_AU
usyd.facultyFaculty of Medicineen_AU
usyd.departmentDiscipline of General Practiceen_AU
usyd.degreeDoctor of Philosophy Ph.D.en_AU
usyd.awardinginstThe University of Sydneyen_AU


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