New safety and quality standards have been released

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The new National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards have been approved and come into effect from January 2019. This second edition of the national standards 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 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 new Comprehensive Care Standard. Additionally the new standards have reduced the number of actions to 148, down from 256. All the elements in the second edition must be implemented by health service organisations.

The first edition of the NSQHS Standards, released in 2011, has been used to assess health service organisations and supporting the introduction of patient safety improvements, including:

  • 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.

The 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 coordinated, comprehensive health care that meets their individual needs, and that considers the impact of their health issues on their life and wellbeing along their patient journey. It also aims to ensure that risks to patients during health care are prevented and managed through targeted strategies. The Comprehensive Care Standard focuses on establishing systems to support the delivery of comprehensive care, developing the comprehensive care plan, delivering comprehensive care including high-quality end-of-life care, and minimising patient harm. It incorporates the intent of the first edition’s Preventing Falls Standard and Preventing and Managing Pressure Injuries Standard. A number of resources to support its implementation, have been developed, including:
    • Three supporting papers that aid understanding of the processes and systems that ensure the delivery of high-quality person-centred comprehensive care
    • new video with members of the Comprehensive Care Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Group explaining what person-centred care means to them
    • Supporting fact sheets.
  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. For more information read the NSQHS Standard: Guide for Hospitals.

See more Clinical Care Standards and Clinical Guidelines on CKN

last updated: 
Tuesday, 11 December, 2018