Quality and Safety

Patient Safety and Risk Management

Discover how to set up effective error reporting systems, lead investigations into adverse incidents, implement successful patient safety improvement projects and engage clinicians in designing safer systems of care.

About the course

Every day, millions of people around the world are treated safety and effectively.  But advances in medical technology and knowledge are making healthcare more complex and, unfortunately, things can and do go wrong no matter how dedicated and professional healthcare staff are.  Making care safer and reducing avoidable harm therefore continue to be fundamental goals for everyone who manages or leads the delivery of patient care.

This course provides comprehensive coverage of all of the knowledge and skills required by today’s patient safety and risk management professionals.  It explores how, in healthcare, fallible human beings and complex systems interact to create a challenging safety environment.  The course also shows you, in considerable depth, how to set up effective error reporting systems and lead investigations into adverse incidents in order to learn from harm and reduce the likelihood of recurrence.  In addition to guiding you through each stage of a patient safety improvement project the course will enable you to develop your impact as an agent of change capable of convincing physicians and other clinical staff to collaborate with you to design safer systems of care and develop a culture of safety.

Delivered via IHLM’s online learning platform and through live interactive virtual tutorials, you will become part of a global community learning how to transform patient safety together.

What you’ll learn

The course content has been carefully benchmarked against both the Patient Safety Movement’s Patient safety curriculum and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPSS) examination to ensure that it is fully up-to-date with current thinking and best practice.  Upon completion of the course you will be able to:

  • appreciate the nature and frequency of medical errors and adverse incidents as well as why healthcare is such a complex safety environment
  • understand the cognitive, physical and psychological factors that affect how human beings and health systems interact
  • identify the dangers technology poses for patient safety as well the role it can play in improving safety
  • improve and optimise your organisation’s error reporting system
  • manage and lead investigations of patient safety incidents using Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
  • run successful projects that accelerate patient safety improvements using the ‘Model for Improvement’ and Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles
  • make patients safer by enabling your team to communicate and collaborate more effectively
  • engage physicians, frontline clinical leaders and other stakeholders in changes that will improve patient safety
  • assess and enhance the safety culture of your unit, department or organisation
  • understand and respect the priorities of patients and their families on matters of safety

How you’ll learn

This course is broken down into ten manageable weekly modules:

  • work at your own speed through a carefully curated collection of self-paced online learning materials that include video lectures, podcasts, interviews and real-world case studies
  • evidence-based research from peer-reviewed publications will help you dig more deeply into topics that really interest you
  • you are not alone – you will interact with other course members, collaborate on learning activities and get direct feedback and coaching from the course leader during weekly virtual tutorials
  • earn professional certification by completing weekly learning activities and mini-projects

This course should take approximately 4 – 6 hours per week.  You can expect to devote about 1 – 2 hours per week to self-paced learning, 1 – 2 hours per week preparing for and participating in the webinar and 1 – 2 hours per week applying your knowledge through learning activities and mini-projects.  Every webinar is recorded so you can rewatch it at any time.

Who should take this course?

This course will benefit anyone who has an interest in, or responsibility for, the safety of patients and the management of clinical risk. This can include patient safety officers and specialists; clinical leaders such as physicians, nurses and allied healthcare professionals and staff in administrative or managerial roles who want to improve their understanding of this most fundamental body of knowledge.

The course is also ideal for both established and emerging patient safety leaders who want to improve their skills and knowledge, maximise their professional impact and advance their career.

About the certificates

Upon successful completion of the course you’ll receive an:

  • IHLM Certificate of CPD Completion – This may be useful for course members who belong to professional bodies that have Continuing Professional Development requirements.  The course has an estimated 60 hours of guided learning.
  • IHLM Professional Certificate in Patient Safety and Risk Management – This is evidence of the capabilities you’ve developed during the course.  The award of a professional certificate requires completion of learning activities and mini-projects during each module.

How to register

Ready to start?  Just click the ‘Register now’ button at the top of this page or use the ‘Ask us a question’ button if you’d like to talk to one of our course facilitators.  The fee for this course is £995 per person.  If you’d like to pay in instalments you can arrange this by contacting us at: registration@ihlm.org.

We provide discounts to organisations registering 3 or more staff in the course and can also provide a customised in-house version tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.

All registrations are subject to our terms and conditions which are available here. By registering for an IHLM course you are accepting these terms and conditions and agreeing to be bound by them.


Module 1: Systems Thinking and the Fundamentals of Patient Safety

In our first module we will introduce the course by reviewing the nature and frequency of medical errors and adverse incidents as well as the three fundamental concepts upon which the contemporary study of patient safety is based: complexity, integration and high reliability. The topics covered in this module include:

  • the nature and frequency of near misses, preventable adverse events and medical negligence
  • how different healthcare units, functions and providers interact to create complex systems
  • how High Reliability Organisations (HROs) such as aviation succeed in avoiding catastrophes in complex and risky environments
  • the major challenges and obstacles healthcare organisations face in order to become safer

Module 2: Human Factors and Human Errors

In Module 2 we will explore the cognitive, physical and psychological factors that affect how human beings and health systems interact and discover how we can design safer health systems. The topics covered in this module include:

  • human cognition and its impact on clinical reasoning and patient safety
  • ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’ thinking and how they affect the interaction between the clinician and their clinical environment
  • the role of human-factors engineering in making care safer
  • how improvements in ergonomics and the work environment reduce medical errors and improve clinician safety

Module 3: The Impact of Technology on Patient Safety

Technology has become an integral part of healthcare so in this module we address its impact on patient safety and consider how technology’s benefits can be harnessed without compromising the safety of care. The topics covered in this module include:

  • how technologies such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) affect patient safety
  • how people and technology interact and why tech should be treated as another member of the healthcare team
  • the impact of Artificial Intelligence on healthcare and how it can be used to improve patient safety
  • the limits of technology and how to avoid using tech inappropriately

Module 4: Error Science I – Error Reporting Systems

This is the first of three modules that will take an in-depth look at how errors should be reported, investigated and responded to. We begin by considering the importance of having systems capable of capturing safety issues and concerns. The topics covered in this module include:

  • the characteristics of an effective error reporting system
  • how to classify errors
  • how to improve and optimise error reporting systems in healthcare
  • the lessons learned from error reporting systems in other industries

Module 5: Error Science II – Root Cause Analysis

In Module 5 we review, in detail, the skills and knowledge needed to manage and lead a comprehensive patient safety investigation using Root Cause Analysis (RCA). The topics covered in this module include:

  • the sources of information that can help us investigate an error or incident
  • practical tools and techniques we can use during an RCA investigation to help us map, analyse and understand events
  • how to identify acts and omissions in care and service delivery
  • how ‘barrier analysis’ can help us identify whether barriers to harm already exist and, if not, how they can be implemented or improved.

Module 6: Error Science III – Quality Improvement

In the third of our error science modules we explore how to undertake an improvement project and how to measure its impact on patient safety. The topics covered in this module include:

  • the science of quality improvement: understanding systems, variance, knowledge-building and human psychology
  • how the ‘Model for Improvement’ can be used to run successful patient safety improvement projects
  • the stakeholders who will be affected by your improvement project and how to select team members
  • how to create a project charter that contains detailed information about your improvement project

Module 7: Teamwork and Communication

Effective teamwork and communication both play a critical role in keeping patients safe. In this module we discover why they are important and how we can improve them. The topics covered in this module include:

  • the impact of poor communication and collaboration on safety
  • what the research evidence tells us about the characteristics of high-performing healthcare teams
  • barriers to effective teamwork and communication in healthcare
  • tools and techniques for improving collaboration and communication in your team

Module 8: Leading Patient Safety

In Module 8 we consider the critical role the patient safety leader or specialist plays in a healthcare organisation and the skills, knowledge and behaviours that make a high-performing patient safety leader. The topics covered in this module include:

  • the role of the patient safety leader or specialist and how it is evolving
  • the types of organisational data that should be on a patient safety leader’s “dashboard” and regularly reviewed
  • the role of patient safety committees
  • how to engage physicians and frontline clinical leaders in improving patient safety

Module 9: Creating a Culture of Safety

A culture in which every caregiver values patients and their safety is the aspiration of all progressive healthcare organisations. In this module we discover why this aspiration can, however, be elusive and consider what it takes to create and sustain a genuinely ‘just culture’ that facilitates exceptional safety standards. The topics covered in this module include:

  • what is a ‘just culture’ and how does it contribute to patient safety?
  • how to assess and enhance the effectiveness of your current safety culture
  • how to incorporate the concepts of ‘Safety II’ and ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ into your practice in order to learn from and celebrate success
  • disclosing errors and supporting patients, families and caregivers

Module 10: Patient-Oriented Safe Care

The final module of this course considers what safe care means for patients and their families and how we can take a more patient-centred perspective on matters of safety. The topics covered in this module include:

  • how effective communication with patients improves their safety
  • techniques for communicating more effectively with patients and their families
  • understanding and respecting the patient’s priorities for safe care



Course Factfile

  • Next session: 14 March 2024
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Commitment: 4-6 hours a week
  • Qualification: Certificate
  • Cost: £995
  • Location: Online

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