Patient safety

About us

In October 2004 WHO launched a patient safety programme in response to a World Health Assembly Resolution (2002) urging WHO and Member States to pay the closest possible attention to the problem of patient safety. Its establishment underlined the importance of patient safety as a global health-care issue.

The programme, WHO Patient Safety, aims to coordinate, disseminate and accelerate improvements in patient safety worldwide. It also provides a vehicle for international collaboration and action between WHO Member States, WHO’s Secretariat, technical experts, and consumers, as well as professionals and industry groups. Each year, WHO Patient Safety delivers a number of programmes covering systemic and technical aspects to improve patient safety around the world.

What is patient safety?

Patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient and reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with health care to an acceptable minimum. An acceptable minimum refers to the collective notions of given current knowledge, resources available and the context in which care was delivered weighed against the risk of non-treatment or other treatment.

The discipline of patient safety is the coordinated efforts to prevent harm, caused by the process of health care itself, from occurring to patients. Patient safety has been increasingly recognized as an issue of global importance.

Who we are

WHO Patient Safety has been created to facilitate the development of patient safety policy and practices across all WHO Member States and to act as a major force for patient safety improvement across the world.

Our vision

A world where every patient receives safe health care, without risks and harm, every time, everywhere.

Our mission

To facilitate sustainable improvements in patient safety and managing risks to prevent patient harm.

The mission of WHO Patient Safety is to coordinate, facilitate and accelerate patient safety improvements around the world by:

  • being a leader and advocating for change;
  • generating and sharing knowledge and expertise;
  • supporting Member States in their implementation of patient safety actions.