This qualitative study was conducted to define and describe what constitutes and contributes to near miss occurrences in the health-care system and what is needed to ensure safer processes of care. Nine health-care organizations (13 sites total) including six academic health sciences centres (acute care, mental health and geriatric) and three community hospitals participated in this study. The final sample consisted of 37 focus groups (86 in the nursing staff only; 62 in the pharmacy staff only; and 99 in the mixed nursing and pharmacy focus groups respectively) and 120 interviews involving 144 health-care consumers. Data were collected using focus groups (health-care professionals) and key informant interviews (health-care consumers). A multi-level content analyses schema (transcription, coding, categorizing, internal consistency, thematic analysis and community validation) was used. Six themes emerged from the multi-level content analyses that combined focus group (health-care professionals) and key informant interview (health-care consumers) data. These themes are discussed under the three original research questions with supporting data derived from codes and categories. Study findings implicate changes for the health-care landscape relative to system, health policy, professional development and quality improvement.