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Lessons from the Australian Patient Safety Foundation: setting up a national patient safety surveillance system—is this the right model?
  1. W B Runciman
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor WB Runciman, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia;


The evolution of the concepts and processes underpinning the Australian Patient Safety Foundation's systems over the last 15 years are traced. An ideal system should have the following attributes: an independent organisation to coordinate patient safety surveillance; agreed frameworks for patient safety and surveillance systems; common, agreed standards and terminology; a single, clinically useful classification for things that go wrong in health care; a national repository for information covering all of health care from all available sources; mechanisms for setting priorities at local, national and international levels; a just system which caters for the rights of patients, society, and healthcare practitioners and facilities; separate processes for accountability and “systems learnings”; the right to anonymity and legal privilege for reporters; systems for rapid feedback and evidence of action; mechanisms for involving and informing all stakeholders. There are powerful reasons for establishing national systems, for aligning terminology, tools and classification systems internationally, and for rapid dissemination of successful strategies.

  • patient safety
  • incident reporting
  • quality improvement

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