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Patient safety: what about the patient?
  1. C A Vincent1,
  2. A Coulter2
  1. 1Clinical Risk Unit, Department of Psychology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  2. 2Picker Institute Europe, King's Mead House, Oxpens Road, Oxford OX1 1RX, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor C A Vincent, Clinical Risk Unit, Department of Psychology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK;


Plans for improving safety in medical care often ignore the patient's perspective. The active role of patients in their care should be recognised and encouraged. Patients have a key role to play in helping to reach an accurate diagnosis, in deciding about appropriate treatment, in choosing an experienced and safe provider, in ensuring that treatment is appropriately administered, monitored and adhered to, and in identifying adverse events and taking appropriate action. They may experience considerable psychological trauma both as a result of an adverse outcome and through the way the incident is managed. If a medical injury occurs it is important to listen to the patient and/or the family, acknowledge the damage, give an honest and open explanation and an apology, ask about emotional trauma and anxieties about future treatment, and provide practical and financial help quickly.

  • patient safety
  • patient/caregiver communication
  • patients' views

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