ISMIE Patient Safety Center

Since our founding in 1976, ISMIE has been resolutely committed to partnering with our policyholders to improve patient safety and reduce risk. Patient safety is the core of our Risk Management program, as endorsed by ISMIE’s Board of Directors and ingrained in the company’s operations. We believe that robust risk management can not only help reduce risk exposure and protect patient safety, but is also essential to advancing quality of care.

In your role as a healthcare professional, patient safety is doubtless a constant consideration in your day-to-day clinical practice. While the term “patient safety” may immediately evoke everyday strategies such as hand-washing and prevention of falls, it’s essential to keep in mind that the concept also extends to “big-picture” considerations such as effective communication with patients, cultural respect, health equity, emergency preparedness, workplace violence prevention, process improvement, just culture, and much more.

Just as patient safety is a cornerstone of your practice of medicine, it’s also at the heart of ISMIE’s Risk Management education program. While all our educational offerings serve to uphold patient safety, it is our hope that this Patient Safety Center will be of particular use in supporting your efforts to keep patients safe each and every day.


A serious female doctor gestures as she discusses healthcare options with a mature female patient. The patient is reading an informational brochure

ECRI details top 10 patient safety concerns for 2024

Transitioning newly trained clinicians into clinical practice, workarounds related to barcode medication administration systems, and barriers to accessing maternal and perinatal care top the list of concerns in this yearly report from ECRI and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. In addition to identifying and analyzing this year's top safety issues, the report offers systems-based strategies for mitigating each risk.

Read the report

In considering the processes and procedures that your practice or facility uses to safeguard patient safety, it may be helpful to categorize measures into approximate “levels of effort”: basic, mid-tier, and large-scale. Depending on your specific practice situation, here’s an example of how that might look:

Basic interventions

Be sure all healthcare professionals are familiar with, and are adhering to, the CDC’s standard precautions for safe patient care:

  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Use PPE whenever you might be exposed to infectious material
  • Follow respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette principles
  • Ensure appropriate patient placement
  • Properly handle, clean, and disinfect patient care equipment & instruments/devices
  • Clean & disinfect the environment appropriately
  • Handle textiles and laundry carefully
  • Follow safe injection practices and wear a surgical mask when performing lumbar punctures
  • Ensure healthcare worker safety including proper handling of needles and other sharps

Mid-tier interventions

The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals provide a useful framework for approaching patient safety principles that are likely to require more time and effort to “get right” than the basic precautions outlined above. These patient safety goals include concepts such as:

  • Identify patients correctly
  • Improve staff communication
  • Use medicines safely
    • Be familiar with look-alike/sound-alike drug list
    • Adhere to do-not-use abbreviation lists
  • Use alarms safely
  • Prevent infection
  • Identify patient safety risks (e.g., identify patients at risk for suicide)
  • Prevent mistakes in surgery
  • Prevent patients from falling
  • Prevent pressure injuries

It’s worth considering how your practice or facility is approaching these patient safety essentials. What processes and protocols exist? And what is done to train healthcare professionals and ensure that processes and protocols are working as intended and being followed properly?

Large-scale interventions

At the top of the scale are patient safety efforts that, while essential, are likely to take significant time, effort, and systemic-level cooperation to address effectively. These include areas such as:

While the specific strategies used to safeguard patient safety may vary slightly at each practice and facility, giving careful consideration to how you approach this essential aspect of healthcare is sure to be time well spent.

Where can I learn more?

External resources: