Patient safety

Safer Primary Care

The WHO Patient Safety programme held the inaugural meeting of the Safer Primary Care Expert Working Group early 2012 with the aim of reflecting and prioritising the key knowledge gaps and challenges that surround the safety of primary care. During the course of the meeting, the Expert Working Group discussed and debated the available evidence on the burden of harm resulting from errors in primary care settings, shared experiences and insights from different parts of the world, and developed a shared frame of reference to work collectively to improve the quality and safety of primary care provision. The summary report of the meeting is now available.

Patient Safety Research: A guide for developing training programmes

WHO Patient Safety is launching the first edition of “Patient Safety Research: A guide for developing training programmes”, a comprehensive document that provides guidance to educators for the development of training programmes in the field of patient safety research. This guide was developed through an extensive consultation with key international experts in education and training.

The guide attempts to address the limited capacity in patient safety research and research translation worldwide by helping to develop leaders in patient safety improvement and change management through measurement and research.

Eastern Mediterranean and African Adverse Events Study

Unsafe care is responsible for an enormous human toll everywhere. New research from the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa suggests that approximately 8% hospital admissions in 26 hospitals showed at least one adverse event that caused harm to patients. Of these, the majority were judged to be preventable and about 30% were associated with the death of patients. The study suggests areas for improvement, particularly in the training and supervision of staff and availability and implementation of protocols and policies. Healthcare institutions that look at their patient safety problems aiming to understand and improve them, are giving gigantic steps towards safer care.

Evidence of unsafe care

Findings from the Latin American Study of Adverse Events (IBEAS) are a reflection of the reality of many other hospitals in transitional countries across the globe: on a given day, 1 in 10 patients admitted to the participating hospitals were suffering from, or undergoing treatment for, a health care -related adverse event. The risk of suffering adverse events doubled if the entire hospital stay was considered. This evidence highlights the importance of addressing patient safety globally.

Patient Safety Research

Patient Safety Research Areas of Work

Evidence of unsafe care in developing and transitional countries

Findings from the Latin American Study of Adverse Events (IBEAS) and the Eastern Mediterranean /African Adverse Events Study highlight the magnitude of unsafe care in developing countries.

Methods, measures and tools

Methods, measures and tools to advance research around patient safety issues and to respond to new and unmet research questions.

WHO Patient Safety Research Small Grants

Set up to stimulate research on patient safety priority areas by providing seed funding for small research projects.

Other areas of work

  • Safer Primary Care
    Reflect and prioritise the key knowledge gaps and challenges that surround the safety of primary care
  • Reporting & Learning
    WHO Draft Guidelines for Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems to improve the safety of patient care.

Contact us

To contact the research team, please email