A public health approach to patient safety reporting systems is urgently needed

J Patient Saf. 2011 Jun;7(2):109-12. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e31821b8a6c.


Patient safety reporting systems (PSRSs) currently operate at local, regional, and national levels within health care. This article analyzes 6 different PSRSs using a World Health Organization and public health classification system. Patient safety incidents (PSIs) are reported, analyzed, mitigated, and evaluated in a variety of different ways. This results in a reduced ability to accurately compare PSIs between different PSRSs, to monitor trends in PSIs, or to reliably translate and learn from information between any individual PSRS. By applying principles from basic public health research and infectious disease surveillance systems, these hurdles may be overcome and the full potential of PSRSs could be realized.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Online Systems
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards*
  • Risk Management / organization & administration
  • Risk Management / standards*
  • Safety / standards*
  • World Health Organization