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Safety netting; best practice in the face of uncertainty

Greenhalgh, S and Finucane, LM and Mercer, C and Selfe, J (2020) Safety netting; best practice in the face of uncertainty. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 48. ISSN 2468-8630

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Abstract

© 2020 Safety netting is a recognised General Practitioner (GP) diagnostic strategy often used in the face of uncertainty to help ensure that a patient with unresolved or worsening symptoms knows when and how to access further advice. It is an important way of reducing clinical risk. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid move to mainly remote consultations within the musculoskeletal field, safety netting is an important strategy to embed within all consultations. Only those presenting with potentially serious conditions are offered face to face consultations. Screening for Red Flags and any indication of a serious cause of symptoms is always first line in any consultation, however, clinical presentations are not always black and white with patients falling into a clear diagnostic category. With patients minds more focussed on COVID-19 symptoms this can be problematic. With the additional ramifications of public health social restrictions, onward management can be a conundrum. Many people with risk factors of serious pathology are also as a consequence, vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. In situations of uncertain clinical presentations, to avoid unnecessary social contact, safety netting can help to monitor symptoms over time until the clinical context becomes more certain. Embedding safety netting within physiotherapy best practice could be a silver lining in this pandemic black cloud.

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