Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council

Chapter 1. Introduction

This Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council is being made available to readers with the intent that it will provide information and guidance to empower individuals and organizations to develop community-based advisory councils. The information in this guide can help those who seek to convene advisory councils that involve patients, consumers, practitioners, and professionals from health care and community organizations for the purpose of driving change in patient safety through education, collaboration, and consumer engagement.

This guide presents a step-by-step approach and provides resources for organizational development and growth in the area of patient-centered care. In addition, it encourages a broader perspective on the definition of patient-centered care, to include community collaboration. While this guide specifically addresses patient safety advisory councils, it can also be used to set up patient councils to address other issues in which patients' voices are important, such as developing patient education materials.

The audience for this guide is primarily individuals who have a basic knowledge of patient safety and are aware of the challenges in incorporating the patient's voice in health care improvement projects. The authors assume readers have some awareness of meeting planning and logistics but that they may not have experience in crafting interactive sessions with participants who represent a variety of perspectives from the health care industry, especially those who represent the consumer experience. Readers are encouraged to refer to the references for additional resources to help fill gaps in their understanding of the concepts discussed and access additional information as needed.


The terms used in discussing patient safety work can be open to individual interpretation. To help to clarify the language used in this Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council, the following definitions are provided.

  • Caregivers—Family, friends, partners, and neighbors who provide vital services to the chronically ill, elderly, and disabled.
  • Patient/Consumer—Anyone who is receiving health care services. These terms are used interchangeably throughout this guide.
  • Providers—Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others who provide health care services.

Guide Structure

The Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council consists of the following sections:

Chapter 2. Patient Safety Advisory Councils. This portion serves as an introduction to how and why patient advisory councils have become part of the patient safety movement. This portion of the guide will be most useful to individuals who are considering whether they want to develop a council. It includes a description of the benefits of creating a community-based patient advisory council for patients, health care providers, and the community. The information in this section could be used as justification and validation to gain support for developing a council from leadership and governing bodies. Particularly highlighted is the experience of the Aurora Health Care project, which led to the creation of this guide and is referred to throughout the guide as an exemplary model of a community-based advisory council.

Chapter 3. Steps to Creating a Patient Safety Advisory Council. This portion outlines 10 specific steps for those who are ready to launch a community-based advisory council. This is the "nuts and bolts" section that will be useful to project managers who are responsible for council development, implementation, and evaluation. Detailed descriptions are provided for the user to adopt or adapt to their specific community. Some of the steps include a descriptive example from the Aurora Health Care project, referencing specific tools that can be found in the appendices.

Appendixes. This section provides examples of documents and forms that were created during the Aurora Health Care project. In most cases, these documents can be adopted and adapted to meet the specific needs of the setting in which they will be used.

References. This bibliography provides resources for those who either need additional information or want to expand their project beyond the scope of this guide.

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Page last reviewed April 2018
Page originally created December 2012
Internet Citation: Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council. Content last reviewed April 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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