GPs’ understanding and practice of safety netting for potential cancer presentations

Safety netting is a diagnostic strategy used in UK primary care to ensure patients are monitored until their symptoms or signs are explained. This qualitative study of GP’s aimed to explore which components of safety netting are acceptable and feasible in primary care. Interviews with 25 GPs revealed that there is uncertainty around which clinical practices are considered safety netting. Increasing workload, reluctance to overburden hospital systems has caused GPs to adopt a selective safety-netting strategy favouring patients considered to be at higher risk of cancer. This study shows that safety netting varied according to clinician preference and experience, and was poorly documented. A proactive, consistent approach to safety netting is required in primary care to ensure the safe follow-up of all patients.

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