High-profile inquiries in several countries have helped to raise public awareness of safety issues and driven policy change. In obstetric critical care, various publications have highlighted organizational factors, communication, absence of guidelines, failure to follow local protocols, poor documentation and delay in identifying the deteriorating woman as issues. Patient safety in obstetric critical care is paramount because of its complexity and the vulnerability of the critically ill patient to error. The principles of risk management and its various components can be used to make improvements. A framework to achieve this is as follows: building a safety culture; leading and supporting staff; integrating risk management activity; promoting reporting; involving and communicating with patients and the public; learning and sharing safety lessons; and implementing solutions to prevent harm.