New Handbook on Patient Safety


A new Handbook on Patient Safety will provide managers with a reference on what needs to be done to develop a safety culture and the environment for safe care, writes Dr Peter Lachman.

Patient safety is a strategic objective of the health service in Ireland. In the Patient Safety Strategy it is stated that “Our vision for patient safety is that all patients using our health and social care services will consistently receive the safest care possible. Nurturing a culture of patient safety which places emphasis on a culture of transparency and organisational learning is key to this.” There are six aims:

  • Empower and Engage Patients to Improve Patient Safety. 
  • Empower Staff to Improve Patient Safety. 
  • Anticipate and Respond to risks to Patient Safety. 
  • Reduce Common Causes of Harm. 
  • Measure and Learn to Improve Patient Safety. 
  • Provide effective Leadership and Governance to Improve Patient Safety. 

None of these can be achieved unless we know how to be safe. To reach these objectives we need leadership at all levels and a management system that facilitates the conditions for the safe delivery of care. In the WHO Global Action Plan for Patient Safety it is stated that education of all is required – all who work in healthcare, from the Board to the Ward. 

Middle management often has not had a clear role on patient safety. It is clear that they have an important role in creating the conditions for safe care and developing a safe culture. Unfortunately, most people who work in healthcare do not receive any in depth training on patient safety. It is like asking the flight crew on an aircraft to keep you safe without being trained in the theories and methods of aviation safety. 

I have been fortunate to have led a project that brings together the theories and methods of patient safety in an easy to read handbook. The Oxford University Press (OUP) Handbook of Patient Safety provides access to the theories of patient safety and practical approaches to develop safe services. Although aimed at clinical staff, the book will provide managers with a reference on what needs to be done to develop a safety culture and the environment for safe care.The book has a large Irish authorship in that two of my co-editors, John Fitzsimons and John Brennan are Irish and several chapters have Irish authors. HMI members can buy the book at an introductory rate at this link.