Patient safety is a key aspect of care quality, having taken on major importance in recent years for both patients and their families, who want to feel safe and confident about the healthcare provided, as well as for healthcare management services and healthcare professionals, who want to provide safe, effective and efficient healthcare.

Unwanted side effects of healthcare are a cause of high morbidity and mortality in all developed healthcare systems. This is chiefly due to the growing complexity of handling patients, owing to the interaction of organizational factors, personal factors on the part of healthcare professionals and specific disease-related factors. The possible harm that patients may suffer in the healthcare environment and the cost of this possible harm to the healthcare system is such that, in recent years, the leading healthcare organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Council of Europe Health Committee and other international organizations and agencies have developed strategies for proposals for plans, actions and legislative measures to control avoidable adverse events in clinical practice.

In this context, the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, in light of its responsibility for improving the quality of the healthcare system overall, as established in the National Health System Quality and Cohesion Act 16/2003, has placed patient safety at the centre of its health policies. Patient safety has thus become one of the key aspects of quality enhancement, as reflected in Strategy Num. 8 of the SNS Quality Programme, implemented since 2005 in coordination with the Spanish regions.


1. General objective of the Patient Safety Strategy:

Improve the safety of the patients for whom care is provided at health centers in the Spanish National Health System.

2. Specific objectives:

These objectives reflect the objectives proposed in the WHO Patient Safety Programme:

  • Promote and develop the knowledge of patient safety and patient safety culture among the healthcare professionals and patients at any level of healthcare. This objective entails carrying out actions for improving safety-related information for and training of the professionals, patients and citizenry.
  • Design and set out adverse effect information and notification systems for learning purposes.
  • Implement recommended safe practices at the Spanish National Health System centers.
  • Promote patient safety-related research.
  • Promote patient and citizen participation in the Patient Safety policies which are carried out.
  • Promote Spain’s participation and increase its presence in international PS forums.

Fields of action of Patient Safey Strategy