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Health Policy. 2009 Apr;90(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2008.08.007. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Engaging patients as safety partners: some considerations for ensuring a culturally and linguistically appropriate approach.

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School of Nursing, Burwood, Melbourne, VIC 3125, Australia.


Engaging patients as 'safety partners' with health service providers to help identify and rectify preventable adverse events in health care is being increasingly accepted in the USA, Australia, and elsewhere as a promising strategy to improve patient safety outcomes. The implications of this trend for patients and families of minority cultural and language backgrounds have not, however, been comprehensively considered. In this article, attention is given to briefly exploring the notion of patient participation in health care and the problematic transposition of the concept into patient safety discourse. The importance of recognising and responding to the critical relationship between culture, language and patient safety outcomes, and the possible benefits and risks of engaging patients of minority ethnic backgrounds in safety partnership programs are explored. It is suggested that if patient safety engagement/partnership programs are to perform well in cross-cultural health care contexts, they need to be supported by research evidence and appropriately informed by the perspectives and experiences of patients and families/nominated carers from minority cultural and language backgrounds. They also need to be appropriately supported by culturally competent policies and practices across the entire health care system. The importance of robust internationally comparative research on this issue is highlighted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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