• Patient participation;
  • Patient safety;
  • Questionnaire


Objectives: To investigate the baseline status of patients’ awareness, knowledge, and attitudes to patient safety in China, and to determine the factors that influence patients’ involvement in patient safety.

Methods: We conducted a cross sectional survey using questionnaires adapted from recent studies on patient safety from outside China. The items included medical errors, infection, medication safety, and other aspects of patient safety. The questionnaire included 17 items and 5 domains. The survey was conducted between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2010 involving 1000 patients from ten grade-A hospitals in seven provinces or cities in China. Most patients from the surgery departments completed the questionnaires voluntarily and anonymously. Five reviewers independently input the data into Microsoft Excel 2003, and the data were double-checked. Data were analyzed using SPSS 15.0 software for differences in the perceptions and attitudes of patients toward patient safety among different genders, ages, and regions.

Results: We distributed 1000 questionnaires and collected 959 completed questionnaires (response rate: 96%). Among the respondents, 58% of patients did not know what medical error is. Sixty-five percent of patients wanted disclosure of all medical errors. After errors occurred, 58% of patients wanted explanations of all possible harms that had resulted. Among 187 patients who had experienced medical errors, 83% of patients had sought appropriate legal action. About 52% of patients understood hospital infection, but 28% patients did not know that infections could occur in hospital. Seventy-eight percent of patients thought that medical staff should wash their hands before examining patients. More than half of the patients (68%) were willing to remind the staff of hygiene if they saw unsanitary conditions in a health clinic. Only 14% of patients knew the side effects of medications that they took.

Conclusion: The majority of patients surveyed expressed willingness to contribute to patient safety, but their knowledge about patient safety practices was generally very limited.