Care pathways and patient safety: Key concepts, patient outcomes and related interventions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although care pathways often target efficiency of care through mapping and standardizing care processes, care can also be improved by reducing patient safety events, such as complications. In this paper, the authors review key concepts and literature relevant to parallels between patient safety and pathway interventions, as well as patient safety issues that should be considered in pathway development and implementation. Both care pathways and patient safety interventions are more likely to be effective when based on a theoretical framework related to human or systems factors or behaviour. Care pathways can target patient safety outcomes, but can also produce new hazards, through applying standards too broadly, reducing adaptability to complex situations or changing care processes in unforeseen ways. Both pathways and safety interventions must also be efficient and consider the opportunity costs of the time needed for providers to implement the intervention. Further research should explore how best to standardize care when needed, while evaluating how best to prevent and monitor hazards, allow for innovation and adaptability to customize care when appropriate, and continue to develop new methods for improving quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-128
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Care Pathways
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy


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