Reliability is failure-free operation over time--the measurable capability of a process, procedure, or service to perform its intended function. Reliability science has the potential to help health care organizations reduce defects in care, increase the consistency with which care is delivered, and improve patient outcomes. Based on its principles, the Institute for Health care Improvement has developed a three-step model to prevent failures, mitigate the failures that occur, and redesign systems to reduce failures. Lessons may also be learned from complex organizations that have already adopted the principles of reliability science and operate with high rates of reliability. They share a preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify interpretations, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience, and underspecification of structures.