It’s time to step it up. Why safety investigations in healthcare should look more to safety science

Siri Wiig*, Jeffrey Braithwaite, Robyn Clay-Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Accident models and theoretical foundations underpinning safety investigations are key to understanding how investigators construct causality and make recommendations. Safety science has devoted large efforts to investigating and theorizing about accidents. Why doesn’t healthcare pay more interest to these theories when investigating healthcare accidents? We use established accident theories to suggest how these can support safety investigations in healthcare and provide new lenses to investigatory bodies. We reflect on examples from research and practice in healthcare systems and other high-risk industries. Investigation processes and reports serve multiple purposes. We argue there is an untapped improvement potential for healthcare safety investigations and suggest new ways of integrating different accident theoretical reflections with investigatory practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-284
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • investigation
  • safety science
  • accident models


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