New On-call, Off-site and After-hours Safety resource

College news
31 March 2017

Visitors to the College conference stand at the National Rural Health Conference will be some of the first to see the new On-call, Off-site and After-hours Safety resource.

Working alone - whether it be in the practice after hours, when visiting a patient in their home, or at the site of car crash as part of on-call duty - always carries additional risks. In these situations, the ‘normal’ risks of abusive, intimidating, threatening, or violent behaviour becomes more concerning. This is of particular relevance to rural and small community practices where home visits and after-hours care can occur in more isolated locations.

The care provided by GPs when working on-call, off-site, and after-hours is invaluable to the patients who need it. This guide aims to provide GPs and practices with options that may be reasonably practicable to employ to minimise and eliminate the risks they face.

The guide outlines policies and practices that GP clinics could institute to maximise staff safety, such as: including hazard notices on patient files in the Patient Management System, setting up security arrangements with other local service providers, and having ‘check-in’ procedures.

Additionally, a comprehensive list is included for GPs on what to consider before, during and after visiting a patient off-site. The list covers assessing and minimising risks, what you are wearing and carrying, safe parking practices, approaching the residence or scene, entering a home, remaining situationally aware, documenting and reporting incidents, and debriefing with colleagues.

While managing violent patients and difficult situations is part of medical teaching, the guide also provides a refresher on what can be done to prevent violence, and in the event of an attack.

Case studies and personal stories are included throughout to highlight the realities of on-call, off-site and after-hours work – particularly rurally – and to provide real life examples of risk management.

As College President, Dr Tim Malloy notes, “we care about the health and safety of all our members and employees. This guide is a tangible and practical demonstration of that sentiment.”

The On-call, Off-site and After-hours Safety resource is a member benefit - visit the Member Resources page to download the document.

Senior Rural Advisor Alita Bigwood displays the new On-call, Off-site and After-hours Safety resource at the 2017 National Rural Health Conference.