We welcome information about patient safety concerns from everyone, including patients and their families, the public and NHS staff. 

What is a patient safety concern?

Patient safety concerns can include a:

  • Specific event or series of events. An event is something potentially dangerous which has already happened, whether or not someone was actually harmed.
  • Safety risk (unsafe condition). A safety risk is a condition that, if not corrected, might lead to something happening which could cause harm.

You can tell us about an event (or series of events), a safety risk, or both.

Examples

HSIB investigated a systemic patient safety risk based on an event where no harm was caused: the wrong administration of an oral liquid medicine (meant to be taken by mouth) into a vein. The patient in the reference case – a child – stayed in hospital for monitoring and was discharged with no adverse effects a day later.

HSIB investigated a systemic patient safety risk that caused an event which did result in harm: a patient who died during a complex emergency transfer by ambulance to a specialist centre from another emergency department.

What we investigate

National investigations

Our national investigations programme can look at events or risks which occurred within NHS-funded care in England after 1 April 2017. You can find out more about the criteria we use to start an investigation on the how we decide to investigate page.

Our decision to investigate is based on the scale of risk or harm, the impact on individuals involved and on public confidence in the healthcare system, as well as the potential for learning to prevent future harm. 

We welcome information about patient safety concerns from everyone, including patients and their families, the public and NHS staff. However, our national investigations do not replace local investigations by hospitals or other organisations and we do not investigate on behalf of families, staff, organisations or regulators.

Maternity investigations

Our maternity investigations programme is focused on events around childbirth that meet specific criteria, and which NHS trusts are required to notify us about.

Even if a maternity-related incident does not fall within the scope of our maternity investigations programme, you are still able to raise it as a patient safety concern for our national investigations programme. 

Your patient safety concern

When you tell us about a patient safety concern, please provide as much information as possible. This will allow us to understand your concern and help us decide whether we would like to ask you for more information and potentially investigate further.

You don’t have to give us your name or contact details, or the names of others involved. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to take your concern forward without this information. Everything you share with us is in the strictest confidence and in line with our privacy notice.

The information that you share with us is important, even if we don’t start an investigation as a result. Everything we receive is added to our database, whether we start an investigation or not. As it grows, our database builds a picture of risk in healthcare and allows us to identify recurring problems and patterns. 

How to tell us about a patient safety concern

You can tell us about a patient safety concern by emailing enquiries@hsib.org.uk.

If you’re unsure about the status of a patient safety concern you’ve already told us about, please email us.

If you would like this information in another format or language, please email enquiries@hsib.org.uk. This includes easy read and British Sign Language, as well as any other language or need.