What is patient safety?

"First, do no harm" is the fundamental principle that seeks to minimize risk and ensure healthcare interventions don't cause unnecessary harm. It's the priority for healthcare workers, as patients trust them with their well-being.

Healthcare-related harm affects approximately 1 out of 10 patients, leading to over 3 million deaths worldwide annually. Over half of healthcare-related harm, primarily from medication errors, is preventable, with approximately 80% of harm in primary and ambulatory settings being avoidable (World Health Organization, 2023).

Patient safety means ensuring patients are not harmed unnecessarily and reducing risks associated with healthcare to an acceptable level. In healthcare systems, various efforts are made to create a safe environment, behaviors, and processes that consistently lower risks, minimize avoidable harm, and manage errors effectively when they occur.

Patient safety is everyone's responsibility, from healthcare providers to patients themselves. Fostering a safety culture and implementing effective protocols ensures patients receive the highest quality care without unnecessary risks or harm.

Printable Patient Safety Checklist

Download this Patient Safety Checklist for healthcare settings to ensure adherence to critical safety protocols and procedures throughout the patient care process.

Why is this extremely important?

Considering patient safety first when handling patients is a no-brainer — it should always be the top priority or a significant risk reduction. 

A connection between patient safety culture and patient outcomes exists, highlighting the significance of specific measurement tools and outcome measures in understanding interventions that enhance patient safety (DiCuccio, 2015). Here are five reasons why patient safety is essential:

  1. Reducing adverse events: Prioritizing patient safety helps reduce adverse events during medical procedures, ensuring better outcomes and minimizing patient harm. Implementing protocols such as the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist can significantly reduce the incidence of errors in the operating room.
  2. Improving safety culture: Emphasizing patient safety creates a positive safety culture within hospitals and healthcare facilities, where staff are vigilant and proactive in identifying and addressing safety issues before they escalate.
  3. Enhancing patient care: Placing a strong emphasis on patient safety leads to an overall improvement in the quality of patient care, ensuring that patients receive optimal treatment and experience positive outcomes.
  4. Reducing mortality rates: Successful implementation of patient safety measures can reduce mortality rates associated with surgery, medication errors, and other medical interventions.
  5. Ensuring access to safe healthcare: Prioritizing patient safety ensures they access safe and reliable healthcare services regardless of their medical needs or circumstances.

What are examples of patient harm?

Patient harm can come in different forms, ranging from medication errors to surgical complications. For instance, a patient receiving the wrong medication due to a labeling error represents one type of harm.

  • Medication errors: These happen when a patient receives the wrong medication, incorrect dosage, or experiences adverse reactions. For example, administering a medicine to which the patient is allergic due to oversight or miscommunication can result in severe harm or even death.
  • Surgical complications: Surgical complications encompass a range of adverse events during surgical procedures, including infections, organ damage, or anesthesia-related issues. An example would be a surgical site infection resulting from improper sterilization procedures or inadequate post-operative care.
  • Diagnostic errors: These errors occur when clinicians fail to accurately diagnose a patient's condition, leading to delays in treatment or inappropriate interventions. For instance, misinterpreting diagnostic test results or overlooking subtle symptoms could result in a missed or delayed diagnosis.
  • Falls and injuries: Falls and injuries in clinical settings can result from various factors, such as environmental hazards, medication side effects, or mobility impairments. For example, a patient may sustain a fall-related injury while attempting to walk unassisted after surgery due to insufficient support or supervision.
  • Communication breakdowns: Communication breakdowns between healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers can lead to misunderstandings, treatment errors, or delays in care. An example would be a failure to convey critical information about a patient's medical history or treatment plan during a handoff between care teams, resulting in inadequate or inappropriate care provision.

What precautions can professionals take to keep patients safe?

While risks are inherent, especially in patient care, they can be avoided or prevented by following specific procedures, such as keeping oneself organized with a checklist. Here are five precautions professionals can take to keep patients safe, as outlined in the checklist template:

  1. Identification: Ensure that patients wear identification wristbands and that their information matches medical records to prevent errors in treatment and medication administration.
  2. Communication: Confirm that patients understand their treatment plans and provide language interpreters to enhance communication and avoid misunderstandings.
  3. Fall prevention: Raise bed rails for patients at risk of falls, provide adequate lighting in patient rooms, and offer nonslip footwear to prevent falls and related injuries.
  4. Infection control: Practice proper hand hygiene, follow isolation precautions when necessary, and ensure the appropriate disposal of infectious waste to avoid spreading infections.
  5. Medication safety: Complete medication reconciliation upon admission, double-check medication administration, and educate patients on medications to prevent medication errors and adverse reactions.

What is a Patient Safety Checklist?

A Patient Safety Checklist is a tool utilized in healthcare settings to ensure adherence to critical safety protocols and procedures throughout the patient care process.

It encompasses various categories such as identification, communication, fall prevention, infection control, medication safety, procedure safety, equipment safety, and discharge planning. By systematically addressing each checklist item, healthcare professionals can mitigate risks, prevent errors, and enhance the safety and well-being of patients.

Patient Safety Checklist example (sample)

Are you excited to witness the completed checklist in action? Using this template, we've crafted an illustrative example of the Patient Safety Checklist, providing a glimpse into its potential when filled out. This example showcases how the template can be utilized to ensure comprehensive safety measures are implemented throughout patient care processes.

Download our free Patient Safety Checklist template example here:

Patient Safety Checklist example (sample)

What are the benefits of having Patient Safety Checklists?

A checklist puts minds at ease, providing a structured, easy-to-follow framework for organizing patient care. Here are some benefits:

  • Risk reduction: Proactively identifies potential risks and hazards to implement preventive measures and mitigate adverse events.
  • Improved communication: Facilitates clear and concise communication among healthcare team members.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Streamlines workflow processes and task prioritization, optimizing time management and resource utilization for improved patient outcomes.
  • Patient engagement: Engages patients in their care by involving them in safety discussions and providing transparency regarding treatment plans and safety measures.
  • Accountability: Establishes clear accountability among healthcare providers, maintaining a safe care environment.

Why use Carepatron as your nursing software?

Carepatron offers a comprehensive solution for nursing professionals seeking to prioritize patient safety quickly and efficiently. With its intuitive platform and robust features, Carepatron's nursing software is ideal for streamlining clinical documentation, scheduling, telehealth, and EHR management, ensuring seamless and effective patient care delivery.

  • Efficient clinical documentation: Simplify and streamline documentation processes, saving time and reducing errors.
  • Seamless scheduling: Easily manage appointments and shifts, ensuring optimal staffing levels for patient safety.
  • Integrated telehealth: Facilitate remote consultations and monitoring, enhancing accessibility and continuity of care.
  • Comprehensive EHR management: Access patient records securely and efficiently, promoting accurate decision-making and care coordination.
  • Patient portal: Empower patients by providing access to personalized health information and communication channels.
  • Abundant resources: Access a wealth of educational materials, training resources, and support to maximize the benefits of Carepatron for patient safety and quality care delivery.

Create a positive impact in healthcare settings. Choose Carepatron to elevate your nursing practice and prioritize patient safety confidently and conveniently!

nursing software


DiCuccio, M. H. (2015). The relationship between patient safety culture and patient outcomes. Journal of Patient Safety, 11(3), 135–142. https://doi.org/10.1097/pts.0000000000000058

World Health Organization. (2023, September 11). Patient safety. World Health Organization; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/patient-safety

What are examples of checklists used in healthcare?
What are examples of checklists used in healthcare?

Commonly asked questions

What are examples of checklists used in healthcare?

Common examples include surgical safety checklists, medication reconciliation checklists, fall prevention checklists, and infection control checklists.

How do patient safety checklists contribute to a safety culture in hospitals?

Patient safety checklists promote a safety culture by standardizing procedures, encouraging communication among healthcare teams, and emphasizing the importance of systematic error prevention.

Are patient safety checklists only beneficial in hospitals?

While initially developed for hospital settings, patient safety checklists can be adapted and utilized in various healthcare settings, including clinics, ambulatory care centers, and long-term care facilities, to enhance safety across healthcare environments.

Join 10,000+ teams using Carepatron to be more productive

One app for all your healthcare work