Safe Practice

Patient/Client safety

The safety of the patients/clients that you care for is of paramount importance and needs to be embedded in all of the activities you and your team carry out.

You will find activities about communication and patient safety in the Communication unit of Flying Start NHS®.

Thinking about patient/client safety

The Quality Improvement Hub makes the following statements about Patient/client safety:

  • it is now widely accepted that about 10% of all patients admitted to hospital will be unintentionally harmed in some way
  • to put that into context: there are more deaths annually as a result of health care than from road accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined.
  • recent financial estimates suggest that adverse events cost the UK£2 billion in 2000 in extra hospital days alone and £400 million in paid negligence claims
  • other costs, such as suffering of patients, their families and the health care workers involved, are incalculable
  • the true tragedy is that harm could have been prevented in many cases

Patient/client safety is a central concept in The NHSScotland Healthcare Quality Strategy and runs through Flying Start NHS®. All of the activities you complete will have some impact on safety in some way.

Reflect on the potential sources of harm that could happen to patients/clients and how the risk of harm is minimised. Record your reflections for your portfolio.

Reviewing your knowledge of patient/client safety

With your mentor/KSF reviewer, and using the information from the activities you have completed in this unit, discuss your learning needs in relation to patient safety. Identify and agree the priorities for you to work towards while you are working in this setting so that your learning benefits the service as well as meeting your needs. Your learning needs should be reflected in your Personal Development Plan. The activities below help you to focus specifically on the safety of the patients/clients that you care for.

Human factors

You may want to do this activity in 2 ½ hour stages.

To recap from the introduction to this unit, about 80% of patient safety incidents have links with human factors (NHS Education for Scotland, 2012). These factors include 'the environmental, organizational and job factors and the human and individual characteristics which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety.' (Evidence into Practice)

The following resources explore this in more detail:

NES: Human Factors

Implementing human factors in healthcare (2010)

RCN Patient Safety webpage

Having accessed the information in the resources:

  • reflect on the factors that you feel affect your work and which might make you more liable to make an error.
  • identify what you can do to mitigate against/reduce the chances of this happening?
  • identify how your team can mitigate against the factors that might make you more liable to make an error?

National patient/client safety initiatives

Access the Healthcare Improvement Scotland resources page or the Scottish Patient Safety website and identify an area of work that they are involved in that relates to your role and work setting.


  • the key messages for your team
  • where there could be an impact from this work for your patients/clients

Record what you have identified for your portfolio and discuss this information and how it impacts on your practice with your mentor.

Safeguarding patients/clients

Identify an area where you want to know more about safeguarding patient/client safety in e.g:

  • healthcare associated infection
  • slip, trips and falls
  • medication, treatment or care errors or omissions
  • environmental and equipment hazards
  • communication

Use your intranet to find local information, or carry out a web search to find out:

  • more about this area
  • how you can avoid the issues you have identified
  • the impact of them happening.

You may want to discuss the area you are going to explore with your mentor and think about staff groups that might be involved. Focus on a priority area for your work setting, and can plan to share what you find with your colleagues.

Health and safety policy

You will have covered a range of issues about Health and Safety in your Health Board Corporate induction. Review what you learned and critically reflect on your role in ensuring that the risks to patients/clients, staff members and other individuals are dealt with appropriately.

Answer the following questions and discuss the issues with your manager/mentor:

  • what are the risk assessment processes that are carried out in relation to your work and workplace?
  • what guidance is there for these?
  • what part should you be playing in these processes?

Record your answers for your portfolio, noting the actions/activities you want to know more about.

Portfolio Activity

Make a portfolio entry which summarises what you have learned about Patient/Client safety. Include what you have already recorded in this section, sharing best practice, your learning needs and how what you have learned so far has changed aspects of your practice. Make sure you discuss this with your mentor/supervisor and/or NHS KSF reviewer and that your future learning needs are reflected in your Personal Development Plan.

Add an alert to your Flying Start NHS® portfolio and /or make a date in your diary to revisit Patient/Client safety.