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Victoria’s Department of Health is not Fully Implemented

The Victorian Auditor-Office General has released a report on the Department of Health in Victoria to see if clinical governance has improved over the last five years. According to the report, while the department has enhanced clinical management, it still has limited authority to ensure the health system’s safety and quality. In addition, the VAGO discovered that the Department of Health has yet to ultimately deploy a statewide event management system to detect systemic concerns.

The Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS) was developed in 2009 by the then-Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which categorizes all occurrences in public health services into four severity levels, ranging from “no harm” to “severe.” It was envisioned that reliable and accurate event data from all health services would be available for regular and systematic clinical incident analysis.

However, no data dictionary thoroughly defined all data fields in the system, leading to inconsistencies in data gathering methods and inadequacies in statewide incident reporting. As a result, the DH could not compare reports and results across public health services to discover system-level hazards and proactively detect underperformance or emerging dangers throughout the system by analyzing lower-severity incidents.

According to the report, the DH only implemented one of the 11 capacity frameworks assuring safe healthcare delivery across the state’s public health services. As previously stated, the frameworks were scheduled to be fully implemented by 2019. The report said, “As a result, DH has not fully addressed the risk that Victorian health services could be knowingly or unknowingly operating outside their safe scope of practice.”

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