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Patient Safety Information for Providers

The goal is to deliver safe, high-quality health care to patients in all clinical settings. You can use the information in this guide to improve quality of care across settings and at multiple levels.

Resources and links provide information on these topics:

Background Information

Overview of patient safety
Despite the best intentions, a high rate of largely preventable adverse events occur that cause harm to patients. There is no one single solution to this problem, rather many solutions must be in place to improve patient safety.

learn more iconJoin the Partnership for Patients to help make hospital care safer, more reliable and less costly.

learn more iconRead the landmark report "To Err is Human" by the Institute of Medicine External Web Site Policy

learn more iconAMA presentation on patient safety External Web Site Policy

learn more iconAHRQ primers offers background information about key concepts in patient safety, and highlight content from both AHRQ PSNet and AHRQ WebM&M


Improving How Care is Provided

Preventing and managing medical errors
Medical errors are adverse patient events that could have been prevented. Use these resources to learn how to avoid medical errors and what to do when there is an error.

learn more iconFree abridged report on 34 NQF practices to reduce adverse events External Web Site Policy

learn more iconLearn how checklists help prevent medical errors External Web Site Policy

learn more iconLearn how to disclose errors to patients


Reducing health care associated infections (HAIs)
Health care associated infections occur while a patient receives treatment for another condition in a health care setting.

learn more iconCDC recommendations to prevent specific HAIs

video presentation iconHHS interactive training video on prevention of HAIs

toolkit iconMSRA toolkit from CDC

toolkit iconCatheter-associated urinary tract infection toolkit from CDC


Hand hygiene
Proper hand hygiene is the single most effective method to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

learn more iconVisit this comprehensive CDC Website on hand hygiene

learn more iconTake this short CDC course on hand hygiene key concepts

learn more iconWHO brochure shows hand hygiene techniques External Web Site Policy<\/p>


Preventing venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the most common preventable cause of hospital death. Pharmacologic methods to prevent VTE are safe, effective, and cost-effective.

learn more iconAHRQ guide on preventing VTE in hospitals

toolkit iconToolkit on preventing VTE External Web Site Policy

learn more iconPresentation on VTE prevention in the hospital


Patient health literacy and communication
Effective communication with patients improves outcomes. Further, low health literacy is associated with negative outcomes, high costs, and unnecessary visits.

learn more iconStrategies to improve patient understanding External Web Site Policy

video presentation iconAMA video on health literacy and patient safety External Web Site Policy

learn more iconLearn how to improve health literacy

video presentation iconVideos to improve communication with patients who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited English proficiency. External Web Site Policy

toolkit iconToolkit to improve language services for patients External Web Site Policy

toolkit iconToolkit to evaluate how well a pharmacy serves patients with limited health literacy

toolkit iconCalculates how many of your patients may have low health literacy External Web Site Policy


Patient-centered care
Providers partner with patients and their family to identify and satisfy the full range of patient needs in a patient-centered approach.

learn more iconKey attributes of patient-centered care External Web Site Policy

learn more iconReport on best practices and common barriers to patient-centered care External Web Site Policy

learn more iconRoadmap to providing patient-centered care External Web Site Policy


Provider Focused Improvements

Teamwork and communication among providers
Safe health care depends on highly trained individuals with disparate roles and responsibilities acting together in the best interests of the patient.

learn more iconLearn more about teamwork training

toolkit iconDecrease errors related to team communication External Web Site Policy

toolkit iconTeamwork training program

learn more iconLearn about communication during patient handovers External Web Site Policy


Physician's role in medication reconciliation
Medication reconciliation is the process of comparing a patient's medication orders to all of the medications the patient is taking. Reconciliation helps avoid medication errors such as omissions, duplications, dosage errors, or drug interactions.

learn more iconLearn about medication reconciliation

Toolkit on medical reconciliation External Web Site Policy

learn more iconLearn more computerized provider order entry (CPOE) External Web Site Policy

toolkit iconGuide on medication reconciliation in outpatient settings External Web Site Policy

toolkit iconUse this list of commonly confused drug names External Web Site Policy


Hospital Focused Improvements

Safety culture
Improving the culture of safety is essential for improving overall health care quality. Measuring your organization's safety culture through staff surveys is a useful way to understand your culture of safety and identify areas that need improvement.

learn more iconLearn more about safety culture

learn more icon10 patient safety tips from AHRQ for hospitals to prevent adverse events

learn more iconInstitute for Healthcare Improvement's leadership guide to patient safety External Web Site Policy

learn more iconLearn about behaviors that undermine a culture of safety

toolkit iconUse these surveys to find out if your organization has a safety culture



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Internet Citation: MONAHRQ. February 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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Last modified 2/7/12.
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