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Patients mostly assess safety in general practice as high

But concerns raised over appointments and diagnosis

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 06 June 2017

Patients report safety issues mostly around GP appointments, a new study shows.

The study,* published this week in the British Journal of General Practice, examined patients’ evaluation of safety problems and harm in general practices. Previous data has relied on information from health professionals, hence the authors, from a range of UK research centres, decided to focus on patient-reported experiences. 

Some 1,244 questionnaires were returned by patients from 45 general practices across five regions in the north, centre, and south of England. 

Of these, 45% of the patients reported experiencing at least one safety problem in the previous 12 months, mostly related to appointments (33%), diagnosis (17%), patient provider communication (15%), and coordination between providers (14%). 

And some 23% of the responders reported some degree of harm in the previous 12 months. However, the overall assessment of level of safety of practices was generally high (86 out of 100).

“Priority areas for patient safety improvement in general practices in England include appointments, diagnosis, communication, coordination, and patient activation,” concluded the authors. 

Responding to the findings, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Where patient safety is a concern, it must be addressed swiftly and effectively.”

* Ricci-Cabello I, Marsden KS, Avery AJ, et al. Patients’ evaluations of patient safety in English general practices: a cross-sectional study. Br J Gen Pract 5 June 2017; bjgp17X691085. DOI:10.3399/bjgp17X691085

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