Identifying safe care processes when GPs work in or alongside emergency departments: realist evaluation.

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Increasing pressure on emergency services has led to the development of different models of care delivery including GPs working in or alongside emergency departments (EDs), but with a lack of evidence for patient safety outcomes.We aimed to explore how care processes work and how patient safety incidents associated with GPs working in ED settings may be mitigated.We used realist methodology with a purposive sample of 13 EDs with different GP service models. We sought to understand the relationship between contexts, mechanisms and outcomes to develop theories about how and why patient safety incidents may occur, and how safe care was perceived to be delivered.We collected qualitative data (observations, semi-structured audio-recorded staff interviews and local patient safety incident reports). We coded data using ‘if, then, because’ statements to refine initial theories developed from an earlier rapid realist literature review and analysis of a sample of national patient safety incident reports.We developed a programme theory to describe how safe patient care was perceived to be delivered in these service models including: an experienced streaming nurse using local guidance and early warning scores; support for GPs’ clinical decision-making with clear governance processes relevant to the intended role (traditional GP approach or emergency medicine approach); and strong clinical leadership to promote teamwork and improve communication between services.Our findings can be used as a focus for more in-depth human factors investigations to optimise work conditions in this complex care delivery setting.

View the full article @ The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
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Authors: Alison Cooper, Andrew Carson-Stevens, Michelle Edwards, Freya Davies, Liam Donaldson, Pippa Anderson, Matthew Cooke, Jeremy Dale, Bridie Angela Evans, Barbara Harrington, Julie Hepburn, Peter Hibbert, Thomas Hughes, Alison Porter, Aloysius Niroshan Siriwardena, Helen Snooks, Adrian Edwards