NSQHS - While many things are changing, some things remain the same, for good reason

By Michelle McDade - October 11, 2018

The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards were developed with the aim to protect the public from harm.

Improvement associated with the implementation of the first edition of the NSQHS Standards include:

  • A decline in the Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia rate per 10,000 patient days
  • A drop in the yearly number of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemia cases
  • A decline of almost one-half in the national rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections
  • Greater prioritisation of antimicrobial stewardship activities in health service organisations
  • Better documentation of adverse drug reactions and medication history
  • Declining rates of in-hospital cardiac arrest

Improvements have also been observed in the areas of consumers and patient empowerment, stronger governance systems and reduction of waste.

The second edition of the NSQHS Standards, released in November 2017, addresses gaps identified in the first edition, including mental health and cognitive impairment, health literacy, end-of-life care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It also updates the evidence for actions, consolidates and streamlines standards and actions to make them clearer and easier to implement.

The updates to the NSQHS Standards, as reflected in the second edition, are the result of significant, wide ranging consultation with Australian Government state and territory partners, consumers, the private sector and other stakeholders. Assessment against the second edition will commence from 1 January 2019.

Health services due for accreditation in 2019 and beyond must ask themselves is how much we need to change our approach. Fortunately the answer is relatively straightforward. Clearly compliance checking must be updated to ensure all actions (new and existing) are reviewed. But the process for ensuring an effective quality management system is in place remains the same.

An effective quality management system is a repeating cycle of improvement, which includes:

  1. Setting the standard - NSQHS minimum requirement (policy and procedure)
  2. Measuring performance against the required standard (audit)
  3. Identifying improvement actions to close the gap between actual and required performance (quality improvement)
  4. Monitoring improvement efforts to ensure positive impact (monitoring)
  5. Embedding the improved performance using more that education and a new policy (behaviour change)
  6. Return to point 2.


If your Quality Management System needs a review or refresh, please don’t hesitate to contact Michelle McDade.

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