National Patient Safety Foundation

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National Patient Safety Foundation
Founded 1997
Focus Patient safety, quality, health care
Area served
United States, international
Method Education, outreach, research
Key people
Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, President

The National Patient Safety Foundation is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that aims to engage key stakeholders to advance patient safety and health care workforce safety and disseminate strategies to prevent harm.[1]


The National Patient Safety Foundation began as an idea proposed in 1996 at a large conference on medical error that was organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association (AMA), and the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center in California and funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.[2] At that meeting, representatives of the AMA announced plans to form a foundation that would be “a collaborative initiative involving all members of the healthcare community aimed at stimulating leadership, fostering awareness, and enhancing patient safety knowledge creation, dissemination and implementation."[3]

Among the foundations early activities was a survey of public opinion of patient safety issues. The survey, conducted by Louis Harris & Associates (2000) revealed that more than 4 out of 5 respondents (84%) had heard about a situation where a medical mistake had been made. More than one-third of respondents (42%) had been involved, either personally or through a friend or relative, in a situation where a medical error was made.[4]

NPSF is home to the Lucian Leape Institute, a think tank named for and led by the renowned patient safety leader, Dr. Lucian Leape. Established in 2007, the Institute’s charter is “to identify new approaches to improving patient safety, call for the innovation necessary to expedite the work, create significant, sustainable improvements in culture, process, and outcomes, and encourage key stakeholders to assume significant roles in advancing patient safety.”[5] One of the Institute’s first activities was publication of an article that identified concepts deemed “as fundamental to the endeavor of achieving meaningful improvement in healthcare system safety.”[6] The five concepts are transparency, care integration, patient/consumer engagement, medical education reform, and health care workforce safety and the restoration of joy and meaning in work. The Institute has published white papers on some of these themes, including Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care (2013)[7] and Unmet Needs: Teaching Physicians to Provide Safe Patient Care.[8]

Institute members also speak on these topics and present annual open forums at NPSF events, such as the Annual Patient Safety Congress.


Part of the Foundation’s mission is to identify and create “a core body of knowledge” about patient safety.[9] To that end, the NPSF Research Grants Program began in 1998, with support provided by members of the NPSF Board of Directors. The program’s objective is “to promote studies leading to the prevention of human errors, system errors, patient injuries, and the consequences of such adverse events in the health care setting.”[10]

Since the program’s inception, NPSF has funded 39 research projects investigating areas such as medication errors, systems design, and diagnostic errors. More than 200 papers and presentations resulting either directly or indirectly from this work have been published in academic journals and presented at national and international conferences. The Foundation periodically issues a progress report (last published in 2012) that details the grant projects and subsequent research.**[11]

Education and Professional Development[edit]

Educating health professionals about patient safety best practices is a key area of focus for NPSF. Since the annual NPSF Patient Safety Congress has brought together health leaders, patient safety professionals, and patient advocates. In recent years, the meeting has touched on some of the most pressing concerns in health care, such as the move toward patient satisfaction as a measure of quality,[12] engaging patients and families in their care,[13] and the use of simulation to teach and promote safe practices.[14]

One of the foundation’s recent areas of focus is elevating patient safety as a medical discipline and a career path for medical professionals.[15] The American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety, which was formed in January 2011, was introduced as the first such organization for individuals (as opposed to organizations) seeking to immerse themselves in a community of like-minded professionals.[16]

NPSF was instrumental in creating the Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety. Established in 2012, the CBPPS is an independent body charged with developing and overseeing a credentialing exam for the patient safety field.[17]

Major Programs and Sponsored Events[edit]

American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (membership program)
Stand Up for Patient Safety (membership program)
Ask Me 3
Patient Safety Immersion Initiative
AHA-NPSF Comprehensive Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship

Annual NPSF Patient Safety Congress
Lucian Leape Institute Annual Forum and Gala
Patient Safety Awareness Week


  1. ^ "About Us - National Patient Safety Foundation". Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  2. ^ Mantell, Paul (November 2000). "The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation". 
  3. ^ National Patient Safety Foundation. "History and Timeline". 
  4. ^ Louis Harris & Associates (September 1997). "Public Opinion of Patient Safety Issues" (PDF). 
  5. ^ National Patient Safety Foundation. "Lucian Leape Institute at NPSF". 
  6. ^ Leape L; Berwick D; Clancy C; Conway J; Gluck P; Guest J; Lawrence D; Morath J; O'Leary D; O'Neill P; Pinakiewicz D; Isaac T (13 October 2009). "Transforming Healthcare: A Safety Imperative". BMJ Quality & Safety. 
  7. ^ Roundtable on Joy, Meaning & Workforce Safety (2013). "Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care". Lucian Leape Institute. Boston, MA. 
  8. ^ Roundtable on Reforming Medical Education (2013). "Unmet Needs: Teaching Physicians to Provide Safe Patient Care". Lucian Leape Institute. Boston, MA. 
  9. ^ National Patient Safety Foundation. "Mission and Vision". 
  10. ^ National Patient Safety Foundation. "Research Grants Program". 
  11. ^ National Patient Safety Foundation. "Research Grants Programs: Summary of Progress" (PDF). 
  12. ^ Bush, Haydn (25 May 2012). "How Important is Patient Satisfaction?". Hospitals & Health Networks. 
  13. ^ Bush, Haydn (24 May 2012). "A Checklist That's Just for Patients". Hospitals & Health Networks. 
  14. ^ Santamour, Bill (16 August 2011). "How to Fundamentally Improve Performance (Without Harming Patients)". Hospitals & Health Networks. 
  15. ^ Sheridan, Terry (23 August 2012). "Safety Specialists: A New Career for Experienced Nurses". Health Callings: Jobs That Matter. 
  16. ^ Gibbons, Michael. "Safety First: The Work of Patient Safety". Advance for Nurses. 
  17. ^ "About Certification". Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety. 

External links[edit]