Patient safety

Our research focuses on patient safety and minimising harm as part of improving the safety and quality of health care. It has important implications for health care policy and practice across diverse settings, including acute, subacute, aged and community care, and consumer and health professional education.


Our research focus

Our program of research includes:

  • identifying events and circumstances that put patients at risk of harm
  • establishing the prevalence and incidence of clinical risks, and the extent of harm associated with such risks
  • establishing the predictors of clinical risk
  • developing, evaluating and testing interventions to prevent, reduce, manage or eliminate risk
  • undertaking economic analyses of interventions to control clinical risk
  • studying patient experiences of clinical risk and patient engagement in risk prevention
  • studying staff knowledge and behaviour in relation to clinical risk management
  • studying organisational governance, including guidelines, systems, policies and procedures, to prevent and manage clinical risk.

Our commitment

Providing safe patient care requires a commitment to best practice. 

As its core, this commitment must include the fundamental principles of person-centred care, effective communication, evidenced-based ethical practice, sound clinical decision-making and multi-disciplinary teamwork.

International collaboration on patient safety

We're working with researchers across the globe on patient safety and patient experience. We collaborate with researchers from developed and developing countries to progress our agenda of patient safety and high-quality care. These include Canada, the UK, Thailand, China and Bhutan.

In Bhutan we're working with the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) on mechanisms for examining hospital patient safety issues and finding solutions.

We're committed to working with our international partners to co-create a program of research and training in patient safety and quality care.

Pain management and patient safety

Alfred Deakin Professor Mari Botti and her team are running a project to improve care processes in the management of postoperative pain, minimising adverse outcomes of unrelieved pain. 

The project will provide guidance for educational programs, practice protocols and policy development locally, nationally and internationally. It also has potential economic and social benefits for Australia.

Developing a systemic approach to subacute care

Professor Julie Considine is leading a study that examines the outcomes of patients who had an unplanned transfer from subacute care to acute care.

Subacute care services are essential for the flow of patients from acute care. Approximately 84 per cent of all admissions to public subacute care facilities occur following an acute care episode.

Our findings highlight the need for more considered planning before transfer between acute and subacute care. They also point to the urgent need to develop systemic approaches to recognise and respond to patients who deteriorate in subacute care.

Medical emergencies and patient safety

Professor Tracey Bucknall and her team are examining patients' understanding of their role in noticing and reporting their deteriorating status and its impact on the prevention of serious adverse events (SAEs).

Gathered through medical record reviews as well as patient and family member interviews, the results will provide unique insights into their interpretations of events during medical emergencies.

It will also help improve strategies in health service planning and delivery, and reduce preventable SAEs. The stories will be used to develop nursing students' clinical reasoning skills in detecting and managing deteriorating patients.

Exercise and patient safety

We ran a modified form of ZUMBA exercise over a two-week period for dialysis patients who generally have only limited exercise, a reduced quality of life and increased risk of injury. As the sessions progressed, patients became increasingly active and engaged and there was spontaneous participation from several staff and other patients.

This fun and inexpensive exercise didn't impact on dialysis and the study found this form of ZUMBA is a safe and feasible exercise program for people receiving haemodialysis.