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Patient safety and clinical governance 

Patient safety and clinical governance
Patient safety and clinical governance

Elizabeth Haxby

and Susanna Walker


February 22, 2018: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 07 July 2020

Clinical governance appeared as a concept in the UK in the late 1990s following scandals in which patients were harmed as a consequence of health care failures. Further international research estimates that one in ten inpatients suffer harm as a result of their health care, leading to death in some cases. Clinical governance is a framework centred around domains of patient safety, clinical effectiveness, and patient experience, underpinned by effective teamwork, leadership, and communication. Its aim is to ensure consistent, reliable, high-quality care delivered by competent individuals in a safe environment. Understanding why things go wrong in health care is key to finding solutions to ensure patient safety. Health care is an increasingly high-risk activity at organizational, departmental, and individual levels, and hazard identification and management are important. Recent recognition of human factors as contributing to many adverse events has facilitated the exploration of how health care professionals function within the context of a high-pressure, unpredictable environment. Lessons from non-health care industries have changed focus from blaming individuals for errors to understanding systems and how they can promote or mitigate failure. The development of non-technical skills, such as teamwork, is vital, and a number of approaches to improving this element of human behaviour are described.

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