Triage and clinical consultations increasingly occur remotely. In this study, published in BMJ Quality & Safety, Payne et al. aimed to learn why safety incidents occur in remote encounters and how to prevent them.
They found that rare safety incidents (involving death or serious harm) in remote encounters can be traced back to various clinical, communicative, technical and logistical causes. Telephone and video encounters in general practice are occurring in a high-risk (extremely busy and sometimes understaffed) context in which remote workflows may not be optimised. Front-line staff use creativity and judgement to help make care safer.
As remote modalities become mainstreamed in primary care, staff should be trained in the upstream causes of safety incidents and how they can be mitigated. The subtle and creative ways in which front-line staff already contribute to safety culture should be recognised and supported.