Patient Safety Case

Patient safety is a key concern for the health service/sector. It is estimated that around 10% of patients admitted to NHS hospitals have experienced a patient safety incident (National Patient Safety Agency, 2004). Of these incidents, research has found that 19 per cent resulted in moderate harm, six per cent in permanent harm and eight per cent resulted in death (Vincent et al, 2001).
In the last 10 years there has been an increased focus on improving clinical safety of patients but what is available to support the built environment in improving patient safety?
MJ Medical undertook an international literature review of current patient safety guidance, research and reports on the topic of designing for patient safety. A key area of focus was the original patient safety case following the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) visit to St Joseph’s Hospital, Wisconsin, USA in 2005 which was the first hospital in the USA to be designed for patient safety.
18 key themes were identified for consideration following the literature review, these ranged from reducing presenteeism, environmental controls and standardisation. The literature review identified the evidence-base that is available to support designing for safety and quality.
The outcome of the research was the development of an evidence based specification titled a ‘patient safety case’. The case provides the key safety features which the NHS, design teams and contractors should wish to prioritise as a minimum standard within any new or existing healthcare setting. The purpose of this safety case is to focus on providing a safe design which maximises the impact of safety features highlighted by the evidence base contained within the case.
If the design recommendations in this case are put into practice it is believed a significant contribution can be made towards improving patient safety within the built environment.