Description: This book may be divided into two main parts. The first part examines the history and evolution of the field of patient safety, the methods of understanding error and adverse events, why and how errors and accidents happen, and the impact of errors and harm on the people involved, including the healthcare providers. The second part reviews practices and interventions designed to reduce error and the components of building a culture of safety within a high-performing healthcare system. The prior edition was published in 2006.
Purpose: The main purposes are to convince readers that patient safety is the foundation of healthcare quality and outstanding patient care; provide a comprehensive and clear overview of the field of patient safety; demonstrate that many of the important topics in patient safety are being studied in other disciplines, such as cognitive psychology and ergonomics; and explain the challenges and difficulties of solving patient safety issues within the framework of a complex healthcare system. These ambitious objectives are met by the author.
Audience: Written for a broad audience that includes students, residents, and practitioners, the book is most appropriate for those practicing in a hospital setting (surgery, anesthesia, and internal and emergency medicine). The author is an internationally recognized expert in the field of patient safety.
Features: The book covers the history of patient safety and how safety is but one dimension of quality, albeit the "first dimension of quality." It reviews the reporting systems for healthcare hazards and how safety is measured. The book emphasizes the inevitability of human error and the overriding importance of systems thinking. Subsequent chapters focus on caring for the patients, their families, and staff after incidents of patient harm. Later chapters review process improvements and clinical interventions and technology designed for improved patient safety. Creating a culture of patient safety especially in the setting of teams will help lead healthcare systems to become "high reliability organizations." I found the chapter on creating a culture of safety (chapter 14) educational, yet humbling, as we in healthcare strive to form high reliability organizations. In the journey to becoming a safer organization, we have realized the importance of systems and patient safety, but we have so much more to learn in terms of better teamwork and communication (chapter 18) and delivering patient-centered care (chapter 15). The best features of the book are the boxes, figures, and tables that highlight crucial information. The in-depth reviews of actual cases are outstanding. The chapter references are excellent, current, and relevant. There are a few shortcomings the lack of color in the charts and graphs and lack of clinically relevant images or photographs. The text font could have been slightly larger for better readability.
Assessment: This book is a tremendous asset in advancing the field of patient safety. It is well-referenced and current and provides a comprehensive yet very readable summary of patient safety. It will serve well anyone who is involved in patient care. In describing this book, the words, "expert", "indispensable", and "worthwhile" come to mind. This is a significant update of the previous edition.