“Despite the extensive attention and public commitments towards patient safety over the last two decades, levels of avoidable harm in healthcare around the world remain unacceptably high. By creating a book with broad scope and clear descriptions of the key concepts and thinking in patient safety, we have aimed to connect with a
much wider readership than those with a professional or academic interest in the subject.
We have not limited ourselves to theoretical models or risk management methodologies. We have aimed to address safety in various medical specialties. For example there is a discussion of the causation and solutions in conditions such as infantile cerebral palsy; today in many health systems this has a high human and economic cost, some of which are preventable.
We have also dealt with how the structure, culture and leadership of healthcare organizations can determine how many patients suffer avoidable harm and how safe they and their families should feel when putting their trust in local services. Safety problems relating to non-technical skills are also discussed; this is a topic of great importance but under-represented in medical and nursing educational and training curricula.
Any assessment of the prospects for creating much safer healthcare systems and health facilities everywhere will be bound to conclude that it will be a long journey. A clear consequence of this is that it cannot be entirely achieved by the current group of senior patient safety leaders. Their successors need to be grown, mentored and inspired to take up the mantle of future leadership as well as guiding those in day-to-day clinical practice where harm is generated but where it can also be prevented.
That is why this new book has embraced the next generation of health professionals with such warmth and enthusiasm. The idea to write it came as a result of an international meeting on patient safety for young doctors held in Florence, Italy, in 2018. Such doctors came from over 40 countries.
Representatives from that meeting have been involved in the chapters in Part III of the book.
The book was conceived and commissioned in a pre-pandemic time, but by the time it was coming near completion COVID-19 was the dominant feature of health and healthcare across the world. This has only served to heighten awareness of patient safety as the pandemic has swept across continents and led to seriously ill patients threatening to overwhelm acute care facilities and care homes in many countries.
Liam Donaldson, Walter Ricciardi, Susan Sheridan and Riccardo Tartaglia