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Governance for Quality and Patient Safety in Canada

Improved governance, accountability and oversight have been recurring themes from inquiries on recent quality and safety lapses in Canada (Wilson 2007). The focus on quality of care and patient safety is relatively new for Canadian boards who have previously focused their work around financial and access questions (Baker et al., p. 7). There is, however, a growing recognition of the changing role and responsibility of the board which recognizes that ensuring quality of care is a fundamental role of governance. As such, boards need to focus on quality of care and patient safety to ensure their organizations’ success.

Baker et al. (2008) found that there are a number of key elements that enable boards to fulfill their responsibilities for quality and patient safety (Figure 1). These elements together support governance for quality and patient safety, and as such are interdependent and build upon each other. Examples of what boards need to know and do around each of these drivers, and examples of tools which enable boards to act upon each driver are provided in this toolkit and drawn from academic literature, organizational examples and organizations dedicated to improving quality and safety.

Figure 1. Drivers for Effective Governance for Quality and Patient Safety