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Standards for health services in Australian prisons

Criterion 1.5.3 Consistent approach

Within our health service there is a consistent approach to diagnosing and managing common and serious conditions of individual patients.


A. Members of our clinical team can describe how they ensure consistency of diagnosis and management of common and serious conditions (within the parameters of evidence based care) within our health service (interview).

B. Our health service has regular meetings to discuss clinical care (interview, document review).

C. Members of our clinical team can describe how they hand over or transfer the care of individual patients to colleagues within our health service, to health services in other prisons and to health professionals continuing a patient’s care in the community (interview).


A consistent approach to diagnosis and management across the various people involved in the clinical care of an individual patient is an important aspect of continuity of care and ensures that clinicians are not working at cross purposes. Patients value consistency in the quality of treatment they receive from a health service and expect that treatment and advice given by different health professionals within a health service will not be in conflict. If a health service employs nurses, psychologists or allied health professionals, patients expect advice provided by these professionals to be consistent with the diagnosis and management approach of the treating doctor. Providing consistency in the diagnosis and management of health issues across a multidisciplinary team assists in ensuring that the health service provides continuity of care for patients (Criterion 1.5.1: Continuity of comprehensive care).

Consistency is just as important in a small health service as it is in large health services with numerous clinical and allied health staff. In prisons where staff rosters and rotations may vary, health services need to ensure that documentation of consultation notes is comprehensive, clear and concise in order to maintain consistency of clinical care. This is also of particular importance in a setting in which patients are frequently and rapidly transferred to alternative correctional locations. Ensuring the timely transfer of patient health information to a new location or to a community based practitioner, ensures consistent management of ongoing care.

Health services can enhance the consistency of care by ensuring that clinical care is based on the best available evidence (see Criterion 1.4.1: Evidence based practice). For example, doctors and psychologists treating a patient with depression should provide consistent information and advice to the patient about their treatment and ongoing care. Management continuity is particularly important for people with chronic or complex diseases and may involve having a plan for the patient’s overall care that is shared by all the people providing care.

Another way of ensuring a consistent approach within the parameters of evidence based practice is by discussing clinical issues at regular meetings of the clinical team.

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