NSQHS Standards (first edition) for private dental practices

Private dental practices are currently assessed against the first edition on the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. This arrangement will continue until the National Safety and Quality Primary Healthcare (NSQPH) Standards become available.

NSQHS Standards (first edition)

The first edition of the NSQHS Standards was released in 2011 and used to assess health service organisations between January 2013 and December 2018. Using the NSQHS Standards, health service organisations put in place safety and quality systems that have improved patient safety. For example:

  • decreased rates of healthcare-associated infections
  • decreased in-hospital cardiac arrests
  • better documentation of adverse drug reactions and medication histories
  • decreased prescribing of antibiotics due to improvements in antibiotic stewardship.

Six of the first edition NSQHS Standards are applicable to private dental practices for the purposes of accreditation . These are:

  • Standard 1 Governance for Safety and Quality in Health Service Organisations
  • Standard 2 Partnering with Consumers
  • Standard 3 Preventing and Controlling Healthcare Associated Infections
  • Standard 4 Medication Safety
  • Standard 5 Patient Identification and Procedure Matching
  • Standard 6 Clinical Handover.

Standards 7-10 do not directly relate to dental care and generally do not need to be implemented by private dental practices for accreditation.

Private dental practices are currently being assessed to the first edition of the NSQHS Standards until the NSQPH Standards become available. Health service organisations including, hospitals, day procedure services, and public dental services across Australia, are assessed to the NSQHS Standards (second edition) via the updated Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme.

NSQHS Standards Guide for private dental practices

The Commission released the NSQHS Standards Guide for Dental Practices and Services to support dental practices improve the safety and quality of care using the NSQHS Standards (first edition) as a framework for improvement.

The guide supports private dental practices implementing the NSQHS Standards and promotes a consistent and shared understanding of the standards. The development of the guide has been a collaborative process with dental practitioners and dental sector stakeholders nationally. The content has been developed and reviewed by dentists from both public and private sectors, and developed in consultation with the Australian Dental Association Inc.

The guide contains information on:

  • Preparing for accreditation
  • Approaches to improving quality and managing risk using the framework of the NSQHS Standards (first edition)
  • The national accreditation scheme
  • Strategies to implement NSQHS Standards 1-6 in dental settings.

Guide, user guide or guidelines

Accreditation process for private dental practices

The accreditation process assesses whether a dental practice has systems and processes in place to improve the safety and quality of care for patients. The process for a dental practice to become accredited involves:

  • A self-assessment of performance against the NSQHS Standards 1 – 6
  • An independent approved accrediting agency conducting an assessment of the dental practice
  • The dental practice making suggested changes as part of a continuous quality improvement approach, and monitoring ongoing performance.

For private dental practices, assessment to the NSQHS Standards (first edition) is voluntary. The Australian Dental Association Inc. supports dental practices participating in assessment to the NSQHS Standards (first edition) by an approved accrediting agency. Please contact the Australian Dental Association Inc. for further information.

Interim accreditation for new private dental practices

There are specific requirements for new private dental practices being assessed to the NSQHS Standards (first edition). New private dental practices are unlikely to be able to meet all 166 actions in Standards 1 to 6 as they do not have patient histories to review. As a result, a number of actions have been prescribed as minimum requirements or have been declared non-applicable for the initial 12 months of operation.

Resources for private dental practices

Resources to implement the NSQHS Standards (first edition) are available on the resources section: NSQHS Standards (first edition).