Much is being done to improve safety in healthcare. Patients themselves can help to safeguard their own wellbeing and promote change. This evidence scan describes ways that patients have been involved in improving safety.

The scan addresses the questions:

  • How have patients and carers been involved in improving safety in healthcare?
  • Is there any evidence that patient involvement leads to improved safety?

The main approaches to involving patients in safety improvement that the scan identifies include:

  • collecting feedback retrospectively
  • asking patients to help plan broad service change
  • encouraging patients to help identify risks when they are receiving care.

The scan shows that supporting patient involvement in safety improvement will not solve all the safety issues in the NHS, nor does it negate the responsibility of health systems and professionals to provide safe care. But involving patients and carers can be an important component of broader strategies. As patients come to be seen and treated as partners in their care, there is significant potential to make real gains in patient safety.

Additional patient safety resources

If you’re interested in patient safety then take a look at our dedicated Patient safety resource centre for hundreds of practical tools, materials and downloads.