Top tips for safety-netting
- Be specific in the advice given – ‘If xxxx happens, please ring the surgery or out of hours provider immediately.’
- Provide a likely timescale for when you believe symptoms should have resolved – ‘Your cough should clear up soon if it’s due to the chest infection. If it’s still there in two weeks, please book an emergency appointment to see me.’
- It can be helpful to book an appointment for follow up yourself. Telling a patient you’d like to book them in to review their progress in a couple of weeks is safer than just saying, ‘book an appointment if it’s not better.’
- Consider giving written information and patient leaflets to reinforce verbal advice.
- Document the specific advice, given rather than simply saying ‘advice given’.
- Check that patients are aware of how to access advice if you’re not available, such as by giving the number of the Out Of Hours provider.
- Bear in mind the need to re-assess if symptoms are not settling, or if there is no response to the treatment you have given. Be prepared to reconsider an earlier diagnosis.
[Sarah Jarvis, MDU]