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Accreditation Canada defines quality as “the degree of excellence; the extent to which an organization meets clients needs and exceeds their expectations”. Key attributes of high quality healthcare systems, as defined by the Institute of Medicine (U.S.) include safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and patient centeredness. The Health Council of Canada Annual Report (2006) entitled Clearing the Road to Quality found that patient safety, information management, quality councils and performance reporting are four key strategies to improve the quality of healthcare.

The Canadian Patient Safety Dictionary (2003) defines patient safety as “the reduction and mitigation of unsafe acts within the healthcare system, as well as through the use of best practices shown to lead to optimal patient outcomes”.

International efforts are underway to standardized taxonomy of key patient safety concepts share learning across health systems; thus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification for Patient Safety defines patient safety as, “the reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with healthcare 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”.

Patient safety is often considered a component of quality, thus, practices to improve patient safety improve the overall quality of care.