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Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Autumn 2021 News

Issue Friday 16 April

In this issue

New Atlas of Healthcare Variation coming soon!

The Fourth Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation

Does health care vary according to where you live? Are some Australians missing out on the care they need? Or, are some getting care they don’t need?

Our Fourth Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, to be released on Wednesday 28 April, will explore answers to these questions and more.

Mapping healthcare use across the country, the new Atlas highlights variation across six clinical areas: early planned birth; chronic disease and infection – potentially preventable hospitalisations; ear, nose and throat surgery in children and young people; lumbar spinal surgery; gastrointestinal investigations; and polypharmacy and medication management reviews in older people.

Early findings reveal the need for a strong response in two key areas – preventing unnecessary harm from planned births, and improving care for consumers with chronic diseases.

National healthcare leaders will reveal some of these important findings at our online launch on 28 April. Register now to join us. 

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Third & fourth degree perineal tears – setting the standard

Perineal tears

Perineal tears are common during childbirth, and most heal well either naturally or with stitches. However, more than 3% of women experience a more serious tear that requires surgical repair.

Our Third and Fourth Degree Perineal Tears Clinical Care Standard, set for release next Wednesday 21 April, aims to reduce unwarranted variation in rates of third or fourth degree perineal tears, and ensure that women who experience these tears receive the right care.

A third or fourth degree perineal tear can affect bowel, bladder and sexual function, so early identification and repair is important for optimal physical and psychological recovery.

The new clinical care standard describes the care that women can expect when they are pregnant or experience a third or fourth degree perineal tear during birth.

You’re invited to the launch of these new national standards – visit our webpage to register.

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End-of-Life Essentials for hospitals

End-of-life Essentials

Most Australians will visit an acute hospital in their last year of life. Many of them will die in hospital.

End-of-Life Essentials is a national project led by Flinders University to help ensure those at the end of their life receive the right care in hospital.

It provides free, evidence-based online education modules and tools to support doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals in navigating this life stage and delivering appropriate acute care.

The modules cover comprehensive care and recognising and responding to acute deterioration standards, and link closely to the National Consensus Statement: Essential elements for safety and high-quality end-of-life care. New modules are underway to assist hospital executives and managers with change management, leadership and governance, and implementing the six end-of-life care actions in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.

To receive a welcome pack and find out more about how End-of-Life Essentials can support your work, complete this online form.

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Credentialing and defining scope of clinical practice

Credentialing and defining scope of clinical practice

Verifying a clinician’s credentials and defining their scope of clinical practice are essential components of good clinical governance for all health service organisations.

Consultation is now open for our draft Credentialing and Defining Scope of Clinical Practice: A guide for managers and clinicians.

This guide has been updated to align with the NSQHS Standards Actions relating to defining, monitoring and reviewing the scope of clinical practice for clinicians.

Visit our website to read the draft guide and provide your feedback before Friday 30 April.

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AMS in the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population

COVID-19 Latest Update

Antimicrobial Stewardship in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is the latest addition to our Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Health Care book.

Building on the evidence about antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) strategies and interventions across a range of health and care settings, this chapter covers demographic characteristics, and cultural safety and other considerations for antimicrobial use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It also recommends antimicrobial stewardship strategies for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

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Charting change in chemotherapy prescribing

Charting change in chemotherapy prescribing

Chemotherapy infusions and other supportive medicines are increasingly being prescribed and dispensed using digital systems, reducing the need for paper prescriptions.

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, work is underway to develop information requirements for a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) electronic chemotherapy medication chart.

This is the first stage of the department’s multistage project to support electronic prescribing in hospitals, and ultimately remove the need for paper PBS prescriptions for prescribing, supplying and claiming chemotherapy medicines.

Stay tuned for updates!

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Remembering the basics…

Standard Precautions

Standard precautions are a group of basic work practices that should be used to prevent and contain infection when providing care to all patients, regardless of whether they have an infectious disease. Hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, correct waste management and disposal, safe handling of sharps, environmental cleaning, aseptic technique, respiratory hygiene and linen management are all part of standard precautions.

Sometimes, standard precautions alone are not enough to limit the spread of infection. For some infections, standard PLUS transmission-based precautions – contact, droplet and airborne – are required.

See our free eLearning module The Basics of Infection Prevention and Control for a basic orientation and foundation for building your infection prevention and control knowledge. More information about standard and transmission-based precautions and our suite of standardised infection control signage are also available on our webpage.

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Optimise your electronic medication management system

Covers for translations of cognitive impairment consumer rights

Does your health service organisation use an electronic medication management (EMM) system?

Our new EMM Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) is an online tool that provides immediate feedback to help improve the use, scope, capacity and safety of your EMM system. It provides strategies for the safe use of medicines across 13 peer-reviewed domains, and supports action plans for improvement.

If you are interested in using EMM SAT for self-assessment and improvement, take a look at our fact sheet or email emmsat@safetyandquality.gov.au.

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Know your healthcare rights

Understanding My Healthcare Rights

Every Australian should know what they, and those they care for, can expect when receiving health care.

Our new Understanding My Healthcare Rights detailed guide and summary booklet help consumers to better understand their healthcare rights, and what they can expect from the Australian healthcare system. They explain the seven healthcare rights, and provide practical advice on what consumers can do if they have concerns.

A host of other resources supporting the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights are also available here, including a video animation which can be viewed online or shown in waiting rooms.

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Careers at the Commission

Meet Herbert Down, Director, Partnering with Consumers…

Photo of Herbert Down

What is your role, in 25 words or less?

I lead the team that manages three of the national standards and the national sepsis program.

What did you do before the Commission?

I trained as a pharmacist in Ireland and spent the first part of my career working for Boots the Chemist. My move to Australia coincided with a move into the hospital sector where I managed pharmacy services in the private and public hospitals. Before this role, I was fortunate to work across several important projects at the Commission including Medication Safety, Safety in eHealth and Clinical Care Standards.

What was your first job?

At sixteen I started work in a large community pharmacy in my home town. My duties varied from shift to shift and I was a true jack-of-all trades. I swept the floors, maintained the stock, sold OTC medicines and helped the pharmacist in the dispensary. It was a fantastic experience. Most of the customers were regulars and I learned early on that recognising them and using their names made interactions much easier. Every once in a while, I would have to leave the comfortable area of medicines for the exotic world of cosmetics and perfume. My cheeky approach covered my lack of knowledge and sometimes led to big sales. This formative experience would lead me to my pharmacy degree and a total of twenty years working in pharmacy.

The question I hear most often in my work is…

What does partnering with consumers mean? In short, we know that when consumers actively participate in their health care they experience better outcomes that align with their preferences and goals. In the complex world of health care, it is easy to lose sight of why we do anything – it is vital to remind clinicians, managers and consumers that the consumer or patient must be at the centre of everything that we do.

What are the top three things on your to-do list?

Working with diverse communities across Australia to develop resources to support the implementation of the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights, delivering the projects that comprise the National Sepsis Program with our partners to improve outcomes for people with sepsis, and finally, ensuring the team of talented people I work with continue to thrive in these uncertain times.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

On a personal level, getting back to Ireland to meet my niece who was born in February is really important to me –  though that trip is looking a little less likely to happen now. The Partnering with Consumers team has an exciting range of projects ahead in the next twelve months. I am looking forward to finding new ways of meeting and consulting with consumers to ensure we can deliver this work.

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e: mail@safetyandquality.gov.au