Measuring Performance

Patient Safety: Safe Practices 2010 

Project Status: Completed

Safe Practices for Better Healthcare 2010 Update

Audit of 2010 Safe Practices for Better Healthcare
Final Report: Safe Practices for Better Healthcare – 2010

NQF endorsed 34 safe practices: List of Endorsed Practices (PDF)
Learn more about Safe Practices 

The Opportunity 

Errors in healthcare cause harm to patients in all settings of care. Best recognized are hospital errors: approximately 1 in 10 patients in hospitals experience errors that cause harm. However, while they are less well-recognized or documented, errors that harm patients also occur in other environments of care.

Healthcare-associated infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year1. At least 1.5 million preventable drug events occur each year due to drug mix-ups and unintentional overdoses. Up to 10% of hospitalized patients suffer from an infection acquired while they are in the hospital

The harm can also be measured by heavy financial costs. Preventable errors have been estimated to cost the United States $17 - $29 billion per year in healthcare expenses, lost worker productivity, lost income and disability2. Meanwhile, healthcare expenditures are growing at more than seven percent per year and patient safety is improving by only one percent3

About the Project

The Safe Practices for Better Healthcare present a set of practices that have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the occurrence of adverse healthcare events across a variety of environments. They were originally designed to work in concert with NQF’s Serious Reportable Events and the ongoing endorsement of patient safety measures. NQF has been moving to an annual update cycle. The 2010 update was built on NQF’s original Safe Practices, first endorsed in 2003 then updated in 2006 and 2009.  


The existing Safe Practices for Better Healthcare was updated with the most contemporary evidence-base and expanded implementation approaches. 


The Safe Practice maintenance process for the 2010 cycle included an initial review of the existing practice specifications by NQF staff and technical content experts, and a review of the latest healthcare literature. When this initial process was completed, the findings were presented to the Safe Practices Steering Committee for review, discussion and inputs. After the Steering Committee completed this review of the existing 34 practices, NQF posted the existing Safe Practice statements and their specifications, with any recommended modifications, for Public and Member Comment. NQF staff and the Steering Committee reviewed the comments received and responded, as needed (in keeping with the NQF Consensus Development Process). The Safe Practices, and any revisions, were then reviewed by the CSAC and the NQF Board of Directors for final endorsement.


Funding for this project was provided by the Texas Medical Institute of Technology (TMIT).

Related NQF Work 

Project: Safe Practices 2009 

Contact Information 

For more information, please call 202-783-1300 or via e-mail at


  • 1. Yokoe DS et al.  A Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals. ICHE 2008; 28(1) S12-21.
  • 2. IOM, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999.
  • 3. Catlin A, Cowan C, Heffler S, et al., National health spending in 2005: the slowdown continues, Health Affairs, 2007;26(1):142-153.

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