​For nearly two decades, experts have called for increased coordination to improve patient safety, but that strategy has never been fully implemented. While real progress has been made in some quarters, significant variability exists, with lots of room for improvement.

Estimates continue to rank harm in the delivery of health care as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. A recent survey of a representative sample of Americans found that 1 in 10 say they have been harmed physically or emotionally while receiving health care, indicating that unintended harm is also a source of long-term physical, emotional, and psychological damage.

IHI considers this a global crisis that demands a passionate, ongoing response and a deep commitment to drive sustainable change.

Our Aim: Work Toward Achieving Total Systems Safety

Curbing this crisis requires change in thinking and a shift from reactive, targeted interventions to a coordinated, system-wide effort. Our aim is to work toward achieving total systems safety — patient safety that is systematic and uniformly applied across all health settings. 

As outlined in a 2015 NPSF report, a total systems approach contains elements that have proven to be at the foundation of safety and are key to making sustainable progress in all health settings. They include safety culture, leadership, communication among team members, measurement, and patient and family engagement.

Building on successful efforts and lessons learned in reducing healthcare-associated infections, the National Steering Committee will use public health strategies to identify effective, replicable interventions for spread across the health care system.

By convening the National Steering Committee, IHI brings organizations together to co-create a roadmap that will drive improvement in patient safety. We will also offer education and tools to build safety skills.

Public Health Framework from the 2017 Call to Action

Public Health Framework for the Prevention of Harm in Health Care