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Patient safety in hospitals — can we measure it?

Neville Board
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (8): 521-522. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10626
Published online: 21 October 2013

Patient safety measurement tools all have limitations, so monitoring a range of data sources is recommended

Patient safety has been described as “the reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with healthcare to an acceptable minimum”.1 It is the hardest dimension of quality to measure. Three landmark reports — from the Harvard Medical Practice Study,2 the US Institute of Medicine3 and the Quality in Australian Health Care Study4 — quantified hospital adverse event rates derived from different methods. Safety researchers remain concerned that health care may not be getting safer5 and that robust measurement of safety in health care is still some way off.6

  • Neville Board

  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

I work full-time at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. This article reflects my analysis, but has been approved for publication in the Medical Journal of Australia by the Commission Executive.

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