New safety and quality standards released

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The new National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS) have been approved and come into effect from January 2019.

The Council of Australian Governments Health Council approved the standards, which are now available online.

Australian Private Hospitals Association CEO Mr Michael Roff welcomed the new standards.

“Australians know private hospitals provide high quality health care. Private hospitals have responded well to the introduction of the standards and will continue to meet the standards’ requirements.”

The second edition of the national standards was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including state and territory partners, health service organisations, consumers, peak bodies and interest groups.

The new edition includes eight standards, replacing the first edition’s 10 standards, with the previous falls and pressure injuries standards now covered in the comprehensive care standard.

Christine Gee, APHA Board member and member of the Commission said the review had reduced duplication in the requirements as well as enabled the addition of mental health, end of life and cognitive impairment content areas.

The first edition of the NSQHS Standards, released in 2011, has been used to assess health service organisations since January 2013, supporting them to introduce safety and quality systems to improve patient safety.

The commission’s publication Vital Signs, published annually, outlines some key improvements stemming from the implementation of the first edition of the standards:

  • A decrease in the rates of healthcare-associated infections
  • Better documentation of adverse drug reactions and medication histories
  • A decrease in rates of intensive care admissions after cardiac arrest and rates of in-hospital cardiac arrest
  • A reduction in antibiotics prescribed due to improvements in antibiotic stewardship.

The standards have also driven improved governance in health service organisations by helping to expand the roles of governments, executives, boards, clinicians and consumers.

A fact sheet on the Commission’s website, which gives an overview of the new standards, says the second edition addresses gaps identified in the first edition, including mental health and cognitive impairment, health literacy, end-of-life care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It also updates the evidence for actions, consolidates and streamlines standards and actions to make them clearer and easier to implement, and reduces duplication,” the fact sheet says.

“There are eight standards and 148 actions, while the first edition had 10 standards and 256 actions. All the elements in the second edition must be implemented by health service organisations.

“Clinical Governance and Partnering with Consumers Standards combine to form the clinical governance framework for all health service organisations. They support and integrate with all the clinical standards, which cover specific areas of patient care.”

The eight standards are:

  1. Clinical Governance, which aims to ensure that there are systems in place within health service organisations to maintain and improve the reliability, safety and quality of health care.
  2. Partnering with Consumers, which aims to ensure that consumers are partners in the design, delivery and evaluation of healthcare systems and services, and that patients are given the opportunity to be partners in their own care.
  3. Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection, which aims to reduce the risk of patients getting preventable healthcare-associated infections, manage infections effectively if they occur, and limit the development of antimicrobial resistance through the appropriate prescribing and use of antimicrobials.
  4. Medication Safety, which aims to ensure that clinicians safely prescribe, dispense and administer appropriate medicines, and monitor medicine use. It also aims to ensure that consumers are informed about medicines, and understand their own medicine needs and risks.
  5. Comprehensive Care, which aims to ensure that patients receive comprehensive health care that meets their individual needs, and that considers the impact of their health issues on their life and wellbeing. It also aims to ensure that risks to patients during health care are prevented and managed through targeted strategies.
  6. Communicating for Safety, which aims to ensure that there is effective communication between patients, carers and families, multidisciplinary teams and clinicians, and across the health service organisation, to support continuous, coordinated and safe care for patients.
  7. Blood Management, which aims to ensure that patients’ own blood is safely and appropriately managed, and that any blood and blood products that patients receive are safe and appropriate.
  8. Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration, which aims to ensure that acute deterioration in a patient’s physical, mental or cognitive condition is recognised promptly and appropriate action is taken.

A full copy of the NSQHS Standards (second edition) is available on the commission’s website at www.safetyandquality.gov.au/our-work/assessment-to-the-nsqhs-standards/

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