How safe is primary care? A systematic review.

Panesar, SS; deSilva, D; Carson-Stevens, A; Cresswell, KM; Salvilla, SA; Slight, SP; Javad, S; Netuveli, G; Larizgoitia, I; Donaldson, LJ; Bates, DW; Sheikh, A; (2015) How safe is primary care? A systematic review. BMJ quality & safety, 25 (7). pp. 544-53. ISSN 2044-5415 DOI:

Full text not available from this repository.


Improving patient safety is at the forefront of policy and practice. While considerable progress has been made in understanding the frequency, causes and consequences of error in hospitals, less is known about the safety of primary care. We investigated how often patient safety incidents occur in primary care and how often these were associated with patient harm. We searched 18 databases and contacted international experts to identify published and unpublished studies available between 1 January 1980 and 31 July 2014. Patient safety incidents of any type were eligible. Eligible studies were critically appraised using validated instruments and data were descriptively and narratively synthesised. Nine systematic reviews and 100 primary studies were included. Studies reported between <1 and 24 patient safety incidents per 100 consultations. The median from population-based record review studies was 2-3 incidents for every 100 consultations/records reviewed. It was estimated that around 4% of these incidents may be associated with severe harm, defined as significantly impacting on a patient's well-being, including long-term physical or psychological issues or death (range <1% to 44% of incidents). Incidents relating to diagnosis and prescribing were most likely to result in severe harm. Millions of people throughout the world use primary care services on any given day. This review suggests that safety incidents are relatively common, but most do not result in serious harm that reaches the patient. Diagnostic and prescribing incidents are the most likely to result in avoidable harm. This systematic review is registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO CRD42012002304).

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
PubMed ID: 26715764
Web of Science ID: 380619800010


Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads since deposit
Accesses by country - last 12 months
Accesses by referrer - last 12 months
Impact and interest
Additional statistics for this record are available via IRStats2

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item