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A survey of the risk-management behaviours of Australian general practitioners

Background To assist general practitioners (GPs) in minimising their risk of medical error, the education unit of a medical insurer developed a survey that assessed the risk-management behaviours ofGPs. Objective This study describes the risk-management behaviours of Australian GPs and how they vary by age, sex and workload intensity. Method A cross-sectional survey of 572 practising GPs, from a random selection of 1657 insured GPs, formed the data for analysis. GPs self-reported their behaviour using the valid and reliable Know yourRisk – GP-Non-procedural Scale. Results GPs reported performing risk-management behaviours frequently in six key areas: practitioner communication, facilitating patient responses, managing adverse outcomes, practice setting, diagnosis, and prescribing/treatment. Risk-management behaviours varied little by age, sex or workload, with ‘facilitating patient responses’ being a key domain in age, sex and workload differences (older GPs and women self-reported higher performance) later found to be not significant when the interaction of age, sex and workload was examined. Conclusion Most GPs were actively engaged in general risk-management behaviours. This selfassessment tool and education strategy identified areas for improvement for individual GPs. The initiative prompted GPs to seek additional education including practice reviews. This risk-management strategy would be applicable to sole practices, group practices and divisions of general practice. Workload intensity may be a major consideration in the focus and extent of participation in riskmanagement behaviours, and research using varying levels of workload intensity is recommended


Maree Johnson, Sungwon Chang, Brooke Murphy, Sheryn Payne

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