Conducting patient safety improvement activities in an integrated, systematic and strategic way is essential when aiming to improve patient safety across entire organisations or healthcare systems.
A range of approaches have been taken to integrate all the different components of patient safety into coherent programmes of management and improvement. These programmes are often focused on achieving different aims in different contexts, but all have the ultimate objective of improving patient safety.
Within individual healthcare organisations, effective patient safety management programmes typically include components that encompass all the key aspects of safety improvement, from leadership and culture to risk assessment and learning from incidents. It can be challenging to understand how to integrate all the varied components of patient safety into an effective programme.
Two important guides and books offer practical and detailed guidance: To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System and The Essentials of Patient Safety.
The Seven Steps to Patient Safety guides provide straightforward and practical guidance on the key elements of patient safety management programmes, and show how these different elements can be brought together to drive safety improvement.
Social movements and networks
Alternative approaches use ideas of social movements and social networks to engage staff across not only single organisations but entire healthcare systems.
The Patient Safety First campaign pioneered many of these approaches and the lessons offer valuable insights into the organisation and design of future patient safety systems.
Whole-system approaches to learning and improvement are also supported by more formalised systems that aim to investigate and learn from serious incidents, spreading learning between organisations to improve patient safety.