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Partnership with patients to improve patient safety

Stephanie M Newell, Dorothy A Jones and Martin J Hatlie
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (2): 63-64.
Published online: 18 January 2010

“We cannot stay silent any longer, waiting and watching as more people are harmed in health care.”1

Error in health care remains a significant problem in Australia, despite more than a decade of efforts to remedy it. Since the landmark 1994 Quality in Australian Health Care Study (QAHCS),2 Australian governments, both state and federal, have introduced various clinical governance, health policy and structural reforms to improve the quality of patient care and reduce preventable harm to patients. However, adverse events have not been measurably reduced. Many acknowledge that barriers to change are embedded in the culture and norms of health care. So, 15 years after the QAHCS and 5 years after a follow-up editorial in the Journal by Wilson and Van Der Weyden3 noting that health care was no safer and calling for a more imaginative strategy to improve patient safety, it is necessary to consider new approaches — not just more of the same. One such approach is to enable patients, carers and families who have experienced poor-quality care and preventable health care harm to develop solutions in partnership with clinicians, health providers and policymakers.

  • Stephanie M Newell1
  • Dorothy A Jones2
  • Martin J Hatlie3

  • 1 Patients for Patient Safety, WHO Patient Safety, Goolwa, SA.
  • 2 Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.
  • 3 Partnership for Patient Safety, Chicago, Ill, USA.


Acknowledgements: 

The Patients for Patient Safety workshop was funded by the Health Consumers Council of WA, WA Department of Health, Curtin University of Technology and Lotterywest.

Competing interests:

Stephanie Newell received an honorarium from the Health Consumers Council of WA for her contribution to the workshop, and the same organisation met travel and accommodation expenses associated with her role as workshop co-facilitator. Dorothy Jones is employed by the WA Department of Health as Director of the Office of Safety and Quality in Healthcare. Her employer paid her for her work as a member of the workshop’s steering committee and for attending the workshop. Martin Hatlie was paid for professional services as facilitator of the workshop and his expenses were paid, including the airfare from the United States.

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