Ethical Issues in Patient Safety Research: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Danielle M. Whicher, Nancy E. Kass, Carmen Audera-Lopez, Mobasher Butt, Iciar Larizgoitia Jauregui, Kendra Harris, Jonathan Knoche, Abha Saxena

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As many as 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care in wealthy countries. The risk of health care-associated infection in some developing countries is as much as 20 times higher. In response, in many global regions, increased attention has turned to the implementation of a broad program of safety research, encompassing a variety of methods. Although important international ethical guidelines for research exist, literature has been emerging in the last 20 years that begins to apply such guidelines to patient safety research specifically. This paper provides a review of the literature related to ethics, oversight, and patient safety research; identifies issues highlighted in articles as being of ethical relevance; describes areas of consensus regarding how to respond to these ethical issues; and highlights areas where additional ethical analysis and discussion are needed to provide guidance to those in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015


  • health services research
  • informed consent
  • patient safety
  • quality improvement
  • research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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