Lessons from the Australian Patient Safety Foundation: setting up a national patient safety surveillance system--is this the right model?

Qual Saf Health Care. 2002 Sep;11(3):246-51. doi: 10.1136/qhc.11.3.246.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Foundations / organization & administration*
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Errors / classification
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Risk Management / organization & administration
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Social Responsibility