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Patient Safety

The reduction and mitigation of unsafe acts within the health care system through the use of best practices shown to lead to optimal patient outcomes. (Canadian Patient Safety Dictionary, 2003)

Culture of Safety

An underlying philosophy in which a shared and constant commitment to safety permeates the entire organization. (National steering Committee on Patient Safety)

Cultural Safety

An outcome of cultural competence and responsiveness defined by those who receive the service rather than the care provider or organization. It is based on understanding the potential discriminations inherent in the health service delivery system. (Indigenous Cultural Safety Policy)

Safety Event

An incident or circumstance that could have resulted, or did result, in unnecessary harm to a patient.

Patient Safety and Learning System (PSLS)

A provincial, web-based tool that provides health care personnel with a simple method for reporting, responding to, managing, and learning from safety events involving patients, staff hazards and/or visitors.


The level of attainment of health systems’ intrinsic goals for health improvement and responsiveness to legitimate expectations of the population. (World Health Organization)

Quality Improvement

The ongoing, combined efforts of everyone (health care professionals, patients and their families, researchers, payers, planners and educators) to make changes that lead to better patient outcomes (health), better system performance (care), and better professional development (learning). (PubMed Central)

Quality Assurance (QA)

The systematic monitoring and evaluation of a project, service, or facility to ensure that standards of quality are being met. QA programs include: Accreditation, Medication Reconciliation, and Care Sensitive Adverse Events.

Safety Measurement Framework

A framework for the measurement and monitoring of safety (The Health Foundation, 2013). The Framework focuses on five dimensions:

  1. Past harm: Encompasses both psychological and physical measures.
  2. Reliability: The ‘failure free operation over time’, applies to measures of behaviour, processes, and systems.
  3. Sensitivity to operations: Information and capacity to monitor safety on an hourly or daily basis.
  4. Anticipation and preparedness: The ability to anticipate, and be prepared for, problems.
  5. Integration and learning: The ability to respond to, and improve from, safety information.

Community Engagement (CE)

Bringing the patient and public voice to Vancouver Coastal Health so that individuals and communities have a role in the planning and decision-making for health services and policies that affect their lives.