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Johns Hopkins University

The Science of Safety in Healthcare

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.



Those interested in participating in this course have three options:

  1. Free Enrollment:  Click “Sign Up” to enroll in course for FREE and earn a statement of accomplishment upon completion.
  2. Signature Track Enrollment:  Click “Signature Track” and follow the enrollment steps.  You will be required to pay a $39 non-refundable fee.  Upon course completion you will receive a verified certificate, which employers can search. What’s this?
  3. Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) Credit:  For healthcare professionals interested in earning Continuing Nurse Education (CNE) contact hours you must:
  • Complete Signature Track enrollment. 
  • Complete registration process through Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. You will be required to pay an additional non-refundable fee of $60 in addition to the $39 fee for signature track. 


If you’re interested in signing up for CNE Credit and have already signed up for Signature Track, click this link to register for CNE:


Almost everyone will be a patient at some point in their lives. Estimates suggest that over 98,000 patients die in US hospitals each year due to medical errors; making medical errors a leading cause of death. Adverse events in healthcare often result from problems in the complex systems of care. Improving patient safety demands a complex system-wide effort, involving a wide range of actions in performance improvement, environmental safety and risk management. Healthcare professionals and consumers must partner in these efforts.
The content of this course has been adapted from the intensive five-day Patient Safety Certificate Program offered by the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality as well as the Helene Fuld Fellows Program undergraduate course content from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.


WEEK I: Overview: In this module, an overview of the science of safety and an introduction to a culture of safety in healthcare will be provided.

  • Patient Safety Q&A
  • Creating a Culture of Safety
  • The Science of Safety

WEEK 2: Enabling and Contextual Factors Influencing Patient Safety and Quality: Enabling and contextual factors, including communication, teamwork, and healthcare human factors, that influence patient safety and quality will be explored in this module.  Complementary presentations by JHU faculty will introduce strategies to enhance communication and teamwork.

  • Leadership to Enhance Communication
  • Communication Toolkit I: Effective Communication
  • Communication Toolkit II: Teamwork
  • Human and Environmental Factors: Contribution to Error
  • Patient Involvement in Patient Safety
  • Increasing Family Participation in Care

WEEK 3: Methods to Improve Safety and Quality: Given the system complexity and various sources of healthcare safety and quality defects, multiple methodologies are required to improve safety and quality.  In addition, sound measurement approaches are required to know whether risk has been reduced.  In this module, several examples of available methodologies to improve safety as well as measurement strategies will be examined.

  • Understanding CUSP and the CUSP Team
  • Learning from Defects in Patient Care
  • Using Event Reports to Design Safer Systems
  • Measuring Success in Safety Initiatives
  • Disclosing Adverse Events
  • Patient Centered Care

WEEK 4: Translating Evidence Into Practice and Leading Change: In this module learners will explore the TRiP Model for translating evidence into practice, review an integrated approach to improving the reliability of care, and distinguish the technical and adaptive challenges of safety and quality improvement.

  • Translating Evidence into Practice
  • Leading Change
  • The Need for Improvement Science
  • What Can You Do to Improve Patient Safety?
  • The Business Case for Patient Safety
  • Q and A  "Ask us anything"

WEEK 5: Summary and future challenges

  • Meet the Patient Safety Experts
  • Patient Safety Fellowship
  • Opportunities for Learning at the Armstrong Institute
  • Opportunities for Learning at the JHU School of Nursing

Taught by

Cheryl Dennison-Himmelfarb and Peter J. Pronovost



4.5 rating, based on 2 reviews

Start your review of The Science of Safety in Healthcare

  • Peter M Abraham

    Peter M Abraham completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

    The lectures were fantastic. My only complaint is that there is peer work at the end (in order to complete and pass the class) where such work was never discussed as being a requirement for completing the class PRIOR to enrolling. I.e. you were not given 100% of the information you needed to decide if you had the time to put into the class prior to signing up for the class.
  • Elizabeth Rankin

    Elizabeth Rankin completed this course.

    I found the 2013 course extremely interesting, helpful and useful. The content & problem-solving methods provided the learner the opportunity to understand how problems occur in the hospital health care system. The course gives you the tools you need to help resolve the many issues professionals and others in any patient facility face. I understood how and why the problems I'd personally face and those of my family, while hospitalized, could have been prevented. I now am able to identify all the gaps in patient safety wherever I go: Doctor's offices, the E.R, outpatient clinics, retirement & long term care facilities! Elizabeth Rankin BScN

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