New Report from the National Patient Safety Foundation Calls for the Creation of a Total Systems Approach and a Culture of Safety to Combat the Serious Issue of Patient Safety

Panel of Pre-eminent Experts Makes Eight Recommendations to Tackle the Issue, which has not Changed Nearly Enough in the 15 Years since the Institute of Medicine's Landmark Report


BOSTON, Dec. 8, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fifteen years after the Institute of Medicine brought public attention to the issue of medical errors and adverse events, patient safety concerns remain a serious public health issue that must be tackled with a more pervasive response, according to a report released today by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF). The report – titled Free from Harm: Accelerating Patient Safety Improvement Fifteen Years after To Err Is Human – calls for the establishment of a total systems approach and a culture of safety.

The report proposes eight recommendations for achieving total system safety and calls for action by government, regulators, health professionals, and others to place higher priority on patient safety science and implementation. The eight recommendations are as follows:

  1. Ensure that leaders establish and sustain a safety culture
  2. Create centralized and coordinated oversight of patient safety
  3. Create a common set of safety metrics that reflect meaningful outcomes
  4. Increase funding for research in patient safety and implementation science
  5. Address safety across the entire care continuum
  6. Support the health care workforce
  7. Partner with patients and families for the safest care
  8. Ensure that technology is safe and optimized to improve patient safety

The new report is the work of a panel of pre-eminent experts brought together by NPSF earlier this year to assess the state of the patient safety field and set the stage for the next 15 years of work. The panel was led by co-chairs Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and lecturer in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and Kaveh G. Shojania, MD, Director of the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the University of Toronto and Editor-in-Chief of the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

"The field of patient safety has not achieved enough, despite definite progress having been made," said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, President and Chief Executive Officer, NPSF. "Health care is still not nearly as safe as it can and should be, and the recommendations of this expert panel set a path for achieving total system safety and making safety a primary focus."

The NPSF report is among the topics being highlighted at IHI's 27th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Healthcare taking place this week in Orlando, FL.

"Despite some significant successes, we know that far too many people still suffer from avoidable injuries in care," said Dr. Berwick, who was a member of the Institute of Medicine's Quality of Health Care in America Committee, which produced To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System in 2000. "One of the objectives of this new work was to identify the gaps and outline the actions to save far more lives and avert far more harm."

The report notes that much of the work done in patient safety to date addresses hospital care, whereas most care today is provided outside of hospitals. Moreover, while deaths from medical errors make headlines, morbidity—in the form of lasting effects of harm, additional care, or lengthier hospitalizations—also demands attention. The report argues for centralized oversight of patient safety, in part to facilitate sharing best practices and knowledge.

"Fifteen years ago, patient safety represented a new endeavor for health care – focusing on how to prevent avoidable harm while delivering routine care," said Dr. Shojania. "Today, interest has shifted toward value, patient-centered care, and other domains of quality. These are also important, but we have a long way to go with patient safety. This report provides clear recommendations for what we need to do to achieve the original vision of the IOM report."

This project was made possible in part through a grant by AIG in support of the advancement of the patient safety mission. AIG had no influence whatsoever on report direction or its content.

The report and the executive summary are available for download at

About the National Patient Safety Foundation

The National Patient Safety Foundation's vision is to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm. A central voice for patient safety since 1997, NPSF partners with patients and families, the health care community, and key stakeholders to advance patient safety and health care workforce safety and disseminate strategies to prevent harm. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the Foundation's work, visit and follow @theNPSF on Twitter.

About AIG

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization serving customers in more than 100 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional, and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property-casualty networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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