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Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Spring 2018 eNews

It’s been a whirlwind of activity at the Commission over the past 3 months!

In this issue

Are you ready for the second edition of the NSQHS Standards?

With assessments against the new standards starting 1 January 2019 for some health services, the key question for everyone in health service organisations is: are we ready?  National Standards Director, Margaret Banks, tackles the issue in her opinion piece for the Australian Hospital Healthcare Bulletin.

Get acquainted with the new standards with our NSQHS Standards Assessor Orientation Course, launched in April this year. The course has already been accessed by nearly 350 assessors and over 1000 others interested in finding out more about the NSQHS Standards.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with participants praising the activities, videos and examples of best practice. A second course running from November 2018 to April 2019 is now open for enrolments.

Among the many new actions included in the second edition of the NSQHS Standards are six specifically identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and health service representatives as having the biggest potential impact on improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To support health services to address these actions, we've launched the NSQHS Standards User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

With assessments only months away for some health service organisations, Margaret Banks asks the question: are you ready?

The Assessor Orientation Course is a valuable resource for anyone working in quality improvement within health service organisations.

The user guide gives clear directions on meeting the new requirements for addressing the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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For the first time, two extensively drug resistant (XDR) N. gonorrhoeae infections have been reported in Australia.


The latest six-monthly report for the National Alert System for Critical Antimicrobial Resistance (CARAlert) system highlights the continuing threat of antimicrobial resistance in the Australian health system.

Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae continue to be the most commonly reported organisms with critical resistances to antimicrobials.

Read AURA Program Clinical Director, Kathryn Daveson's insightful piece for Croakey to find out more.

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Navigating the colon with the Colonoscopy Clinical Care Standard

The Commission launched the Colonoscopy Clinical Care Standard to great fanfare at the Australian Gastroenterology Week 2018, in early September.

The need for a nationally agreed standard of care for people undergoing a colonoscopy was highlighted in 2015, when our first Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation found some areas in Australia had colonoscopy rates 30 times higher than others.

With the number of people who have a colonoscopy each year approaching one million, the new standard has the potential to benefit many Australians.

VTE is coming...

Did you know that blood clots kill more Australians each year than car accidents? Deaths from hospital-acquired venous-thromboembolism (VTE) are considered largely preventable.

The VTE Prevention Clinical Care Standard, to be launched on 11 October at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, will offer much needed guidance on the appropriate use of blood clot prevention methods both during and after a stay in hospital. Stay tuned for more.

The Commission's Clinical Director, Professor Anne Duggan, talks to Channel 10 news about the new Colonoscopy Clinical Care Standard.

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High risk medicines online course

South Australia Health and the Commission are collaborating to develop online learning modules to support the safer use of high risk medicines in hospitals.

The first two modules - on high risk medicines and insulin - will be released in October, with modules on anticoagulants and clozapine to follow shortly.

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Work will begin in early 2019 on modules for risks associated to opioids.

NSMC national audit 2018

The Commission is coordinating an audit of the National Standard Medication Chart (NSMC) from 1 to 31 October.

All health service organisations using a conforming NSMC are invited to participate. Participating in the national audit provides hospitals with the opportunity to:

  • Evaluate the use of NSMC safety features at their hospital
  • Establish a baseline for NSMC use and future quality improvement initiatives
  • Improve the safety of medication charting by identifying areas for improvement and intervention
  • Use the data to calculate the relevant National Quality Use of Medicines Indicators
  • Conduct internal benchmarking when repeated participation in auditing has occurred
  • Assess their performance against peer hospitals.

A national report on the medication chart audit will be compiled and available in early January 2019.

A separate process will be developed for health service organisations who have implemented electronic medication management systems that include digital medication charts.

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Clinical Trials Governance Framework

Did you know that clinical trials contribute over $1.1bn annually to the Australian R&D economy and give Australian patients access to potentially life-saving treatments?

To help make Australia a preferred location for clinical trials, the Commission has been contracted by the Department of Health, on behalf of all jurisdictions, to develop a national Clinical Trials Governance Framework.

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The Clinical Trials Governance Framework - a first step towards a nationally consistent accreditation approach for health service organisations undertaking clinical trials.

Delivering better person-centred care

Focusing on the delivery of person-centred care, and doing it well, is a foundation for achieving safe high-quality health care.

What can we learn from those healthcare organisations that do it well - and what do they have in common? We have identified seven key attributes common to high-performing person-centred health service organisation.

Making informed decisions

Health decisions often have no single ‘best choice’ and require choosing from multiple options. To support clinicians develop and refine their skills in communicating effectively about the benefits and risks of treatment options with patients, we have developed:

These seven interrelated and mutually reinforcing attributes provide an ideal organisational model for supporting consistent and excellent person-centred care.

Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions: Communicating benefits and risks e-learning module, provide patients with the best possible information to inform their decisions.

Short informative videos. We love them, you love them. Here are three more for the discerning viewer with an interest in improving shared decision making.

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A national standard for dispensed medicine labels

The Commission is developing a national standard for dispensed prescription medicine labels. Prototype labels have been developed for solid oral dose forms, oral liquids, creams and eye drops.

Three hospitals - Canberra, Royal Melbourne and Royal Darwin - will test the prototype labels later this year on patients awaiting discharge. The hospitals will evaluate patient understanding of the information presented on the label. Results from user testing and the hospital evaluations will be used to inform the dispensed label standard.

News from FIP

The 78th FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was held in Glasgow from 2 to 6 September 2018.

Diana Shipp from the Commission’s eHealth and Medication Safety team won best poster for ‘Developing a national standard for dispensed medicine labels’, in the section Health and Medications Information. Congratulations Diana!

Diana Shipp at the FIP Glasgow 2018 Congress with her winning poster – ‘Developing a national standard for dispensed medicine labels’.

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Coming Soon!

The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation

Previous Atlases have found large variations in the provision of common health treatments across the country – giving health experts and clinicians valuable new information – and leading to the development of clinical care standards and other resources to support appropriate care.

The third Atlas, due for publication in late 2018, examines variation in cardiac tests, thyroid investigations and treatments, gastrointestinal investigations and treatments, and paediatric and neonatal health.

Stay tuned to find out what it uncovers.

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Working at the Commission

Want to work in a vibrant culture culture with people dedicated to protecting the public from harm and improving the quality of health service provision?

Visit the Commission's career page to find roles we are currently advertising.

Meet Marghie Murgo...

What did you do before the Commission?

I worked at a different Commission - the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission, on a variety of projects including most recently, strengthening processes of delegation and escalation of clinical care. Before that I worked as a clinical nurse consultant in intensive care.

What do you do now?

I am the Senior Nursing Advisor in the Partnering with Consumers team and have responsibility for developing resources to support implementation of the Comprehensive Care and Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration Standards.

What do you love about your work?

I love working on positive improvement activities that serve the community and help to ensure that all people receive the very best care no matter where they are, and that the workforce can access the resources they need to provide compassionate, appropriate care.

What’s something that someone outside the Commission may not know about us?

We work hard but we make sure to inject some fun into the workplace to create a positive and supportive work environment.

Marghie Murgo has worked in the health sector for more than 20 years.

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t: 02 9126 3000
e: mail@safetyandquality.gov.au