Patient safety interventions are often criticised for just being implemented without proof of effect. To prove efficacy we need to be able to measure patient safety so we can first identify the problems, address them and then assess whether implemented interventions have the desired effect.
My just published systematic review for PLOS ONE was part of a large intervention study on transitional patient safety, aiming to improve safety during care transitions between general practice and hospital – such as referral, discharge after hospital admission and simultaneous care at the outpatient clinic and general practice. The review aimed to systematically identify all validated measurement tools measuring transitional patient safety, assess their quality and investigate whether such tools are actually used in current literature.
We identified 14 validated measurement tools on specific aspects of transitional patient safety. The quality of these tools was acceptable, but validity was often incomplete – especially for use in effect measurement. We also found that many of the available validated tools were rarely used in research. Instead we found various other outcome measures, with unknown measurement properties, being used and incorporating various methods of measurement, making comparison of results uncertain.
Ultimately none of the identified tools covered the whole transitional process or were appropriate for our setting. As a result we decided to develop new measurement tools with the aim of providing a comprehensive set that will allow researchers to both identify transitional safety issues and compare interventions.
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