The current context of healthcare delivery is one that emphasises patient safety and high quality care. This focus on patient safety within the health industry has lead to the widespread adoption of the term clinical governance. Clinical governance has two aspects. Firstly, this term describes the systems and processes that a health agency has in place to detail accountability and responsibility for patient safety. Secondly, the term clinical governance also encompasses the mechanisms used to monitor and measure patient outcomes to ensure optimum quality care (Balding, 2005).
The growing awareness of the vulnerability of patients to safety related incidents was highlighted in an Australian study by Wilson and colleagues in 1995. This study retrospectively audited patients' notes to identify the incidence of patient events that occur because of errors in care. Because of this study, they estimated that 18,000 deaths and 17,000 permanent disabilities occur each year to patients in Australian hospitals because of preventable errors. This study focused political attention on the issue of patient safety and increased pressure on health care agencies to demonstrate processes that protected patients.
Gluyas, H., & Alliex, S. (2008). Perceptions of external stakeholders regarding the development of clinical governance: A Western Australian perspective. Paper presented at the 6th Australasian Conference on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Christchurch, New Zealand.