The evolving role of health educators in advancing patient safety: forging partnerships and leading change

Health Promot Pract. 2007 Apr;8(2):119-27. doi: 10.1177/1524839906299016.


At least 1.5 million preventable injuries because of adverse drug events occur in the United States each year, according to an Institute of Medicine report. IOM and other organizations at the forefront of health care improvement emphasize that stronger partnerships between patients, their families, and health care providers are necessary to make health care safer. Health educators possess a skill set and an ethical framework that effectively equip them to advance patient and family-centered care and contribute in other significant ways to a safer health care system. Health educators in clinical settings are playing varied and significant roles in advancing patient safety. They are removing barriers to clear communication and forging partnerships between patients, their families, and staff. Health educators are leading patient safety culture change within their institutions and contributing to the shift from provider-centric to patient-centric systems. To expand their impact in improving patient safety, health educators in clinical settings are participating in public awareness campaigns. In seeking to enhance patient safety, health educators face a number of challenges. To successfully manage those, health educators must expand their knowledge, broaden connections, and engage patients and families in meaningful ways.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Educators*
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Models, Educational
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Professional Role*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • United States