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Levels of agreement on the grading, analysis and reporting of significant events by general practitioners: a cross-sectional study
  1. J McKay1,
  2. P Bowie2,
  3. L Murray3,
  4. M Lough2
  1. 1
    Division of Community Based Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2
    NHS Education for Scotland, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3
    Division of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Dr J McKay, NHS Education for Scotland, 2 Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8BW, UK; john.mckay{at}


Background and aims: There is variation in the identification, analysis and reporting of significant events in general practice. Consistency is desired to optimise learning from, and reporting of, patient safety incidents. We examined levels of agreement among different groups of general practitioners (GPs) on the grading, analysis and reporting of selected significant event scenarios.

Method: Cross-sectional postal questionnaire survey of 162 GPs split into five professional groups in the west of Scotland. Differences in grading severity and willingness to formally analyse and report seven significant event scenarios were examined using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Differences in proportions were calculated together with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: 122 GPs responded (77%). No difference was found in the grading severity of significant events by GP groups. Increased grading severity was linked to the willingness of GP groups to analyse and report that event (p<0.05). A preference to anonymously report all event scenarios to a national educational body was reported (p<0.05). The majority of respondents were not willing to involve patients in relevant event analyses (83–100%).

Conclusions: The strong levels of agreement suggest that GPs can prioritise relevant significant events for formal analysis and reporting. Focused guidance should be developed to encourage their engagement with the patient safety agenda, optimise learning from safety-relevant events and increase reporting opportunities. Exploration is required of the reasons why GPs may prefer an educational body as a potential reporting source or may be unwilling to include patients in relevant event analyses.

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  • Funding: The study was funded by NHS Education for Scotland.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethics approval: The study was approved by NHS Greater Glasgow Primary Care Division Research Ethics Committee—REC Reference Number 05/S0701/48.

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