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From good to great: how an understanding of clinical governance can greatly impact your care

Photo: From good to great: how an understanding of clinical governance can greatly impa....
Let’s face it, for most of us ‘clinical governance’ is an unattractive term. As clinicians devoted to providing the best care to patients, the impact of good clinical governance is difficult to appreciate. In reality, it is far more important than just honing clinical skills.

The clinical governance knowledge gap contributes to a startling statistic; 1 in 4 people in Australian hospitals who stay overnight suffers a complication; about 725,000 patients each year.

Mistakes happen to the best of us, but research shows that most mistakes are generally system errors. As an example, a colleague of ours, Dr Cameron Knott, who was training in Intensive Care Medicine at the time tells a compelling story of such an occasion. He was part of a team that treated a middle-aged man for cardiogenic shock, the result of which was an unrecognised oesophageal intubation. The man sustained a severe hypoxic brain injury and died.
Dr Knott reflects that a culmination of inter and intra-hospital system problems and failures in team planning and communication contributed to the incident.

We asked Professor Harvey Newnham, a Physician at a major Victorian hospital what he sees as being the biggest challenge with clinical governance.

“The biggest challenge is for frontline staff to understand that they're working in a system, and no matter how hard they work as an individual, it’s going to be difficult to deliver the highest quality care without an understanding of the system they’re working in.”

For clinicians it’s important to understand the processes of care and the patient episode in total, not just in isolation of their immediate working environment. A focus on clinical governance processes creates opportunities for continuous improvement activities, for clinicians to collaborate and to foster a culture of excellence and to realise a comfort level and confidence as an emerging leader.

The Certificate in Clinical Governance for Patient Safety and Quality Care offered by the Australasian Institute of Clinical Governance addresses these foundations through online learning and interactive workshops.

“I’ve never really understood the term ‘clinical governance’. I now realise that it is imperative that my colleagues and I apply it to our practice to ensure better patient safety and quality care”. Participant June 2019

To enrol in the AICG Certificate Course or to read Dr Cameron Knott’s full story, visit


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