The LINNEAUS Euro-PC collaboration is a co-ordination action funded by the European Union Framework 7 programme. The main focus of the co-ordination action is to build a network of researchers and practitioners working on patient safety in primary care the European Union.
Why the focus on primary care?
In many countries in Europe, access to specialist care occurs through the medium of primary or generalist care. In the UK for example nearly 750,000 patients consult their GP each day. In Germany there are nearly 1.5 million visits per day to primary care and in the Netherlands every citizen has nearly 3 consultations with their GP each year. Primary care is therefore a vast organised sector for health care with millions of interaction occurring every day throughout the European Union. Primary care accounts for nearly 80% of the health concerns reported to a physician compared to 5% for hospital care.
Evidence suggests that there are between 5-80 safety incidents per 100,000 consultations which in the UK would translate to between 37-600 incidents per day. The vast majority of incidents can be categorised into 4 main areas covering diagnosis, prescribing, communication between health care providers and patients, and organisational.
Although the potential for error is great, research also suggests that 50% are of no consequence, 20% result in non-clinically relevant delays in diagnosis, 10% result in upset patients but more significantly 20% of errors could have serious consequences. Therefore, even if the overall risk is lower, the potential for harm is significant.
The Linneaus collaboration includes partners from England, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Greece, Austria, Poland and Scotland. Each group within the collaboration leads a work package responsible for researching, networking and developing tools which can be used across Europe for improving patient safety in primary care.
Why we need to study patient safety in primary care?
The vast majority of research on patient safety has up to now, focused almost exclusively on hospital/specialist care. There is perception of primary care as a low technology environment where safety is not a problem. Primary care is also a much more heterogeneous in its organisational arrangements and in virtually all European countries the organisational arrangements between primary and secondary care are different and complex.
There is a multiplicity of sites where primary care is carried out (the clinician’s office, the telephone and the patients’ home). The interfaces between primary and specialist care are hugely important and vary widely between European countries, making the study of patient safety at the interface problematic.
Consultation and interpersonal skills are critical to the delivery of primary care and exploring issues related to patient safety in this area raises specific challenges. All these factors make the study of patient safety in primary care difficult.
To create a sustainable network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers in the European Union focusing on patient safety in primary care.
At the end of the project we will have developed extensive resources for improving patient safety in primary care. The resources will include reporting mechanisms, the use of a taxonomy, guidance on reducing medication errors, accreditation for patient safety, guidance on reducing communication errors, a guide on the use of patient safety indicators in primary care and on reducing error due to diagnostic mistakes.