Patient Safety

The Patient Safety project, funded by the Department of Health, was initiated to support the College in keeping up to date with international developments in patient safety.

Patient safety in emergency departments is important to minimise the occurrence and effect of adverse events. It is a discipline that uses current research from a variety of sources to minimise harm caused to patients, and to attain a dependable health care system.

While the project concludes in 2016, a number of outcomes provide a lasting impact on care of patients in the ED.

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Image: patient safety
Patient safety is an issue for all areas of the health care system, including emergency departments (EDs). 

The Quality and Patient Safety Standards Project commenced in 2012, when ACEM received additional funding from the Department of Health (DoH). The project focused on quality standards in EDs, and promoted patient safety and the reduction of clinical error among the ACEM fellowship. It also reinforced the implementation of the Quality Framework.

The IHI Open School Course in Patient Safety is available: please contact patientsafety@acem.org.au


History

A Patient Safety Working Group of 16 members, including a patient advocate, was established within ACEM and included FACEMs from across Australasia. The Group’s aim was to identify how ACEM could best address patient safety issues in emergency medicine, and to establish leadership in patient safety within the College.

The Group targeted key areas for patient safety in emergency medicine following the first workshop in a series of Workshops:

  1. diagnostic error
  2. decision support tools for emergency departments
  3. clinical standards for high risk presentations
  4. rural and remote emergency medicine
  5. follow up of test results
  6. clinical handover (including safe discharge from the ED)
  7. focus on patient centredness
  8. supervision of junior staff.

Patient Safety Working Group Members since 2013

 
Name Region/Organisation
Matthew Chu NSW
Carmel Crock VIC
Anita Deakin Australian Patient Safety Foundation
Murray Delport NZ
Robyn Gunn VIC 
Natalie Hannaford Australian Patient Safety Foundation
Kim Hansen QLD
Deb Henrys College of Emergency Nursing Australasia Ltd 
Ezila Kapilan NSW
Sean Lawrence QLD
Ed Pink QLD
Stephen Priestley (Chair) QLD
Berto Rodriguez WA 
Shameem Safih NZ
Eric Van Puymbroeck SA
Bill Runciman Australian Patient Safety Foundation 
John Vinen ACT 
Garry Wilkes WA
Maureen Williams Patient Advocate

 

Under the Government-funded program, the Patient Safety Working Group hosted three workshops (2013-2016). There are currently no further patient safety workshops scheduled but please email patientsafety@acem.org.au to express interest in the event future courses are organised. 

Did you know? FACEMS can still undertake an online patient safety course run by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). ACEM has purchased a subscription for the Open School Online Courses so you can also access other IHI online programs but you first need to contact patientsafety@acem.org.au

Outcomes

The third workshop, Accelerated Patient Safety Course, resulted in a revised Discharge from the ED to Home checklist.

The second workshop, Communication and Clinical Handover, resulted in the revision of Guidelines on Clinical Handover in the Emergency Department.

Patient Safety and Reducing Clinical Error, which was the first workshop in the series, aimed to improve awareness of patient safety and reduce clinical error among the ACEM membership. Key priority areas were determined and the workshop also provided an Australian perspective on patient safety while linking ACEM’s work to the new National Standards for Hospitals and Health Services


Highlights

Accelerated Patient Safety CourseAccelerated Patient Safety Course (pictured)
Presented by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in March 2016, this was the most recent workshop. The four day event covered many topics ranging from a framework and diagnostics for patient safety, to building a collaborative ED culture, to engaging patients to create safe and reliable care. Have a look at the video from the workshop on patient experience.

Communication and Clinical Handover in Emergency Departments
You can view videos of the second workshop, which was aimed at promoting patient safety and reducing clinical error.

Patient Safety and Reducing Clinical Error  
A visit to Australia by international patient safety pioneer Dr Mark Graber sparked the idea of hosting this workshop. Dr Graber - a Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the State University of New York (Stony Brook) and senior scientist at RTI International  - has been at the forefront of efforts to improve patient safety for many years. In 2011 he founded the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. 

Dr Graber was engaged with the workshop to discuss the challenges encountered by emergency medicine physicians when making diagnoses, and the latest research into the subject.

Dr Michael Smith, Clinical Director of the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC), was also engaged in the workshop to discuss the patient safety emphasis of the National Standards for Hospitals. Overall, the aims of the workshop were to:

  • develop awareness of patient safety and reducing errors in emergency medicine
  • develop leadership among the fellowship in reducing errors in emergency medicine
  • establish collaboration among fellows and with local and international experts
  • create platforms to promote the national program Quality and Patient Safety Standards project among the fellowship.
There are currently no patient safety scholarships available. The scholarships, which were open to to all FACEMs and Advanced Trainees in 2014, were aimed at supporting and encouraging those with an interest and/or expertise in patient safety.

The main goal was for scholars to engage in either professional development activities or patient safety initiatives that lead to one or more of the following:
  • an increase in our Patient Safety knowledge base in emergency medicine
  • enhancement of Patient Safety expertise and leadership among our members and trainees
  • raising the profile of Patient Safety initiatives in emergency medicine. 
The scholarships provided opportunities for existing and emerging leaders to develop and engage in Patient Safety activities and/or develop strategic leadership skills in this area that would, in turn, enable them to contribute to the broad agenda of Patient Safety in our emergency departments. 

Scholarship recipients and research topics
Thomas Brough – Project on early recognition of sepsis
Murray Delport – IHI Patient Safety Executive Course: 
Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (Waitemata District Health Board ED) and associated Just Culture Policy
John Dyett – Project to develop smartphone application for ACLS
Kim Hansen – International Forum of Safety and Quality in Healthcare to promote EMER
Stephen Priestley – IHI Patient Safety Executive Course
Berto Rodriguez – IHI Patient Safety Executive Course
Richard Smith – Project to improve communication and reporting results

Recipients were expected to use their knowledge and skills in ongoing advocacy initiatives and share their knowledge with ACEM and emergency medicine colleagues.
Frequently Asked Questions

Why did ACEM need the patient safety project?
  • to develop awareness of patient safety and reducing errors in emergency medicine
  • to develop leadership among the fellowship in reducing errors in emergency medicine
  • to establish collaboration among the fellowship and with local and international experts
  • to create a platform to promote the national program Quality and Patient Safety Standards project among the fellowship.

How was the patient safety project funded?

The project was funded through the Department of Health as one of several contracts with ACEM’s National Projects Program.

What are the priority areas identified by the patient safety working group?
  • diagnostic error
  • decision support tools for emergency departments (EDs)
  • clinical standards for high risk presentations
  • rural and remote  emergency medicine
  • follow up of test results
  • clinical handover (including safe discharge from the ED)
  • focus on patient-centredness
  • supervision of junior staff.
Who did the Patient Safety working group report to?

The Patient Safety working group reported to the ACEM Standards Committee and the Quality Subcommittee.

Who should I contact for more information?

Email: patientsafety@acem.org.au
For enquiries, please contact: patientsafety@acem.org.au