Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Patient and carer identified factors which contribute to safety incidents in primary care: a qualitative study
  1. Andrea L Hernan1,
  2. Sally J Giles2,
  3. Jeffrey Fuller3,
  4. Julie K Johnson4,
  5. Christine Walker5,
  6. James A Dunbar6
  1. 1Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, Flinders and Deakin University, Warrnambool, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2NIHR Greater Manchester Primary Care Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  4. 4Department of Surgery, Institute for Public Health and Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5Chronic Illness Alliance, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia
  6. 6Deakin Population Health Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Andrea L Hernan, Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, Flinders and Deakin University, Warrnambool, VIC 3280, Australia; andrea.hernan{at}


Background Patients can have an important role in reducing harm in primary-care settings. Learning from patient experience and feedback could improve patient safety. Evidence that captures patients’ views of the various contributory factors to creating safe primary care is largely absent. The aim of this study was to address this evidence gap.

Methods Four focus groups and eight semistructured interviews were conducted with 34 patients and carers from south-east Australia. Participants were asked to describe their experiences of primary care. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and specific factors that contribute to safety incidents were identified in the analysis using the Yorkshire Contributory Factors Framework (YCFF). Other factors emerging from the data were also ascertained and added to the analytical framework.

Results Thirteen factors that contribute to safety incidents in primary care were ascertained. Five unique factors for the primary-care setting were discovered in conjunction with eight factors present in the YCFF from hospital settings. The five unique primary care contributing factors to safety incidents represented a range of levels within the primary-care system from local working conditions to the upstream organisational level and the external policy context. The 13 factors included communication, access, patient factors, external policy context, dignity and respect, primary–secondary interface, continuity of care, task performance, task characteristics, time in the consultation, safety culture, team factors and the physical environment.

Discussion Patient and carer feedback of this type could help primary-care professionals better understand and identify potential safety concerns and make appropriate service improvements. The comprehensive range of factors identified provides the groundwork for developing tools that systematically capture the multiple contributory factors to patient safety.

  • Patient safety
  • Primary care
  • Qualitative research

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.