Patient safety skills in primary care: a national survey of GP educators

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Title: Patient safety skills in primary care: a national survey of GP educators
Authors: Ahmed, M
Arora, S
McKay, J
Long, S
Vincent, C
Kelly, M
Sevdalis, N
Bowie, P
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Background Clinicians have a vital role in promoting patient safety that goes beyond their technical competence. The qualities and attributes of the safe hospital doctor have been explored but similar work within primary care is lacking. Exploring the skills and attributes of a safe GP may help to inform the development of training programmes to promote patient safety within primary care. This study aimed to determine the views of General Practice Educational Supervisors (GPES) regarding the qualities and attributes of a safe General Practitioner (GP) and the perceived trainability of these ‘safety skills’ and to compare selected results with those generated by a previous study of hospital doctors. Methods This was a two-stage study comprising content validation of a safety skills questionnaire (originally developed for hospital doctors) (Stage 1) and a prospective survey of all GPES in Scotland (n = 691) (Stage 2). Results Stage 1: The content-validated questionnaire comprised 66 safety skills/attributes across 17 broad categories with an overall content validation index of 0.92. Stage 2: 348 (50%) GPES completed the survey. GPES felt the skills/attributes most important to being a safe GP were honesty (93%), technical clinical skills (89%) and conscientiousness (89%). That deemed least important/relevant to being a safe GP was leadership (36%). This contrasts sharply with the views of hospital doctors in the previous study. GPES felt the most trainable safety skills/attributes were technical skills (93%), situation awareness (75%) and anticipation/preparedness (71%). The least trainable were honesty (35%), humility (33%) and patient awareness/empathy (30%). Additional safety skills identified as relevant to primary care included patient advocacy, negotiation skills, accountability/ownership and clinical intuition (‘listening to that worrying little inner voice’). Conclusions GPES believe a broad range of skills and attributes contribute to being a safe GP. Important but subtle differences exist between what primary care and secondary care doctors perceive as core safety attributes. Educationalists, GPs and patient safety experts should collaborate to develop and implement training in these skills to ensure that current and future GPs possess the necessary competencies to engage and lead in safety improvement efforts.
Issue Date: 17-Dec-2014
Date of Acceptance: 8-Dec-2014
ISSN: 1471-2296
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: BMC Family Practice
Volume: 15
Copyright Statement: This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Sponsor/Funder: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Funder's Grant Number: RDPSC 79560
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Primary Health Care
Medicine, General & Internal
General & Internal Medicine
General practice
Patient safety
Medical education
Clinical Competence
Faculty, Medical
General Practice
Patient Safety
Prospective Studies
Reproducibility of Results
Surveys and Questionnaires
Public Health
1117 Public Health And Health Services
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 206
Appears in Collections:Division of Surgery
Faculty of Medicine

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