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Putting prevention into practice (Green Book)

The use of decision aids

'Decision aids' are 'tools or strategies that help the patient make a decision, and are especially useful when the information is complex, unclear or conflicting'. They help the patient to understand the options and to consider personal value that may be placed on benefits and risks. They also help to involve the patient in management decisions. Decision aids may increase the patient's realistic perceptions of treatment, lower decision conflict and are especially useful with passive or indecisive patients. Patients may feel happier about their consequent decision.

Use of patient records

All patients with multiple problems, on multiple medications, and the elderly, receive an A4 clear plastic sleeve containing a full health summary on one side and a patient drug sheet on the other. The sheet is brought to every consultation and updated or replaced as necessary. Copies are given to the carers of the frail elderly, hostel workers and nursing home staff. It is suggested to the patient that these sheets be placed in a conspicuous place at home and taken by the patient to hospital, to specialist visits and to any allied health appointments. When an admission to hospital is notified, these data plus relevant progress notes and pathology, are faxed to the hospital. Rob Wight, Christies Beach, South Australia


  • 10 tips for safer health care: what everyone needs to know is available in 23 languages at
  • The 'Adverse medicine events line' provides advice and collects adverse incident reports on the use of medicines (1300 134 237)
  • Better practice guidelines on complaints management for health care services from the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care at
  • South Australian Whole of life immunisation card (adult and child) available from the South Australian Immunisation Coordination Unit 08 8226 7107 or at