Patient Safety

Patient safety is a priority for our health care system. Our vision for patient safety is that all patients receive the safest possible care.

This means

  • making patients partners in their care,
  • promoting an open and transparent patient safety culture, and
  • learning from near misses and mistakes

No patient expects to be harmed in health care. We all expect and hope that our treatment and our family’s treatment or care will be successful and safe. Yet we know that in health facilities all over the world, patients do suffer harm and it is sometimes avoidable. We must do all we can to minimise risks to help avoid patient safety problems

We are making progress in lots of areas. We have implemented many patient safety initiatives in recent years resulting in measurable improvements. Many of these have been in response to serious patient safety incidents.

Some of these initiatives include

Patient Safety Strategy 2019 to 2024

The first overarching, Board approved, HSE Patient Safety Strategy was launched on Friday, 13 December 2019 by the Chairperson of the HSE Board Mr Ciarán Devane and the CEO, Mr Paul Reid.

This Patient Safety Strategy was developed by patients and staff, working together to identify and implement improvements in healthcare that will support the provision of the safest and best care to those who need it.

The Strategy recognises that patients and those who use our mental health and disability services are often best placed to inform and support safety improvement and places a significant emphasis on patients being central to the planning and the implementation of the Strategy

National and international evidence shows us that as many as 1 in 8 patients suffer harm while using healthcare services and up to 70% of this harm could have been prevented. This is not acceptable and this strategy is an important step to reduce this level of patient harm in our health services

Some of the actions in the Patient Safety Strategy are:

1.      To develop a patient safety culture throughout the organisation that is fair and open.

2.      Implement and enhance governance structures that improve accountability at every level of the organisation with patient safety as the core focus.

3.      Establish a National Patient Safety Programme within the office of the Chief Clinical Officer

4.      Improve systems and processes that listen to, engage with and involve patients in their own care, and in the design, delivery, evaluation and improvement of health care services.

5.      Involve staff in the identification and improvement of patient safety issues including reporting of incidents, learning from the causes of incidents, and learning from examples of good practice and successful initiatives 

6.      Improve the capacity and capability of the organisation for patient safety, including supports, resources, education and training, and patient safety surveillance systems and methodologies

Publishing the strategy is another important step toward reducing incidents of patient harm in our health service. The next step in this process is looking at how the strategy will be implemented across the organisation.

Read a summary of the Patient Safety Strategy

Read the full Patient Safety Strategy 2019 – 2024 

Implementing the strategy

The newly established Patient Safety Programme will identify and build on excellent patient safety improvement work already being undertaken throughout the HSE and has already commenced work on implementation such as developing a high level implementation plan and a communications plan in addition to engaging with various stakeholders throughout the service. The Patient Safety Programme will commence a consultation process which will seek how best to support services in implementing the strategy.

Next steps to roll-out the implementation of the strategy:

1.      Establish governance structures to support the Patient Safety Programme and the implementation of the Strategy.

2.      Plan out the approach that will be taken for implementation

3.      Develop a communication and engagement strategy to align with implementation

4.      Involve patient and staff in the implementation planning  

5.      Begin a service mapping and gap analysis. 

6.      Identify strategies, supports and resources need to enhance capacity and capability.   

7.      Develop the Five Year Patient Safety Strategy Implementation Plan 

8.      Advance patient safety improvements within prioritised patient safety areas

Support for services

A Strategy for Change

To support and monitor the implementation of the Strategy, a Patient Safety Programme and Team have been established. Patient Representatives will be involved at all stages of the Programme. Patient safety improvement actions will be contained in our National Service Plan and service level Operational Plans. The Patient Safety Programme Team will provide leadership, oversight, co-ordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Strategy.

More information

Contact the Patient Safety Programme

Dr. Cate Hartigan, Lead Patient Safety Programme,

Dr. Samantha Hughes, Project Lead, Patient Safety Programme,

Dr. Sean Denyer, Patient Safety Programme,

Quality Assurance and Verification, Office of the Chief Clinical Officer,

Health Service Executive, Dr. Steeven’s Hospital, Dublin 8, DO8W2A8

Phone: 01 6352619,

How we can play our part to improve patient safety?

  • Engage patients as partners in their care      
  • Involve patients in the design, planning and delivery of our health service
  • Communicate clearly with patients about their care
  • Speak up if you see something unsafe
  • Introduce yourself to patients and their family
  • Mind your personal health and wellbeing and look out for colleagues who need support
  • Improve the culture of your workplace by practising the 9 behaviours of Values in Action
  • Clean your hands properly when caring for patients to reduce risk of infection
  • Recognise, highlight and build on existing good patient safety practice in your workplace
  • Improve the quality and timeliness of incident reviews and learn from patient safety incidents
  • Know about the commons harm that happen in your clinical workplace
  • If you lead a team, create a  secure environment  for people to discuss their concerns
  • Keep good patient records and notes
  • Talk to patients about any changes to their medicines or care and encourage them to keep an up-to-date list of the medications they are taking

Related topics

HSE Patient Safety Strategy 2019-2024

HSE Patient Safety Strategy Summary 2019-2024

Involving patients in the design, planning and delivery of health care

Communicating clearly with patients

Healthcare communication programme

HSE Open disclosure policy

Say #HelloMyNameis

Staff health and wellbeing

Values in Action

RESIST hand hygiene programme

From Safety I to Safety II   

Quality Improvement Division

Healthcare Records Management, Safe Patient Care Code of practice for healthcare records management

Know, Check, Ask