Patients’ evaluations of patient safety in English general practices: a cross-sectional study
Ignacio Ricci-Cabello, Kate S Marsden, Anthony J Avery, Brian G Bell, Umesh T Kadam, David Reeves, Sarah P Slight, Katherine Perryman, Jane Barnett, Ian Litchfield, Sally Thomas, Stephen M Campbell, Lucy Doos, Aneez Esmail and Jose M Valderas
Background: Description of safety problems and harm in general practices has previously relied on information from health professionals, with scarce attention paid to experiences of patients. Aim: To examine patient-reported experiences and outcomes of patient safety in primary care. Design and setting: Cross-sectional study in 45 general practices across five regions in the north, centre, and south of England. Method: A version of the Patient Reported Experiences and Outcomes of Safety in Primary Care (PREOS-PC) questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 6736 patients. Main outcome measures included ‘practice activation’ (what a practice does to create a safe environment); ‘patient activation’ (how proactive are patients in ensuring safe healthcare delivery); ‘experiences of safety events’ (safety errors); ‘outcomes of safety’ (harm); and ‘overall perception of safety’ (how safe patients rate their practice). Results: Questionnaires were returned by 1244 patients (18.4%). Scores were high for ‘practice activation’ (mean [standard error] = 80.4 out of 100 [2.0]) and low for ‘patient activation’ (26.3 out of 100 [2.6]). Of the patients, 45% 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%). Twenty-three per cent of the responders reported some degree of harm in the previous 12 months. The overall assessment of level of safety of practices was generally high (86.0 out of 100 [16.8]). Conclusion: Priority areas for patient safety improvement in general practices in England include appointments, diagnosis, communication, coordination, and patient activation.