Luke Slawomirski has kindly drawn attention to the release of a report by the Australian Commission for Safety & Quality in Health CareVital Signs 2015 is the third ACSQHC report and highlights some of the newly emerging areas of focus in safety and quality, including primary care, mental health and eHealth.

The Commission is currently examining the impact of the introduction of the NSQHS Standards nationally; this evaluation is due to be finished in December 2015. The evaluation will look at whether the NSQHS Standards have made a difference to safety and quality for patients and how to measure the impact in the future. Interim results suggest that the standards have led to better outcomes in the areas of recognising clinical deterioration (cardiac arrests), infection control, antibiotic administration and communication.

Case studies in the report include a focus on primary care safety, by reference to some UK data. Varying non-mandatory standards are noted, with the Commission noting on page 25:

One way to address this would be to have a single set of safety and quality standards and accreditation processes that could be applied in different settings, including primary care. This could reduce duplication, help streamline processes across acute and primary care, and make it easier for patients to understand the safety and quality of their care in different settings.

Noting that about one in six people over the age of 15 see three or more healthcare providers for the same health condition, the Commission also addresses eHealth records.

Against the background of the recent Medibank / Calvary Hospital debate, the Vital Signs 2015 includes on page 94 a discussion of ‘high priority complications’ and of the proposed use of administrative data to improve patient safety. The report notes that estimates of hospital patient safety incidents range from 3% to 15% of admissions, with even 3% meaning about 300,000 people. Some 37% of such complications were infections.

Health care variations are discussed on page 102, focusing on seven procedures including three cardiac procedures, two knee procedures, caesarean section and hysterectomy.

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