Avoidable patient harm is a major public health concern, and may already have surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. While the public health community has contributed much to one aspect of patient harm prevention, infection control, the tools and techniques of public health have far more to offer to the emerging field of patient safety science. Patient safety practice has become increasingly professionalized in recent years, but specialist degree programs in the field remain scarce. Healthcare organizations should consider graduate training in public health as an avenue for investing in the professional development of patient safety practitioners, and schools and programs of public health should support further research and teaching to support patient safety improvement.
© 2014 American Society for Healthcare Risk Management of the American Hospital Association.