Source: (2005) Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, Commonwealth of Australia. Downloaded 19 October 2005.

Accidents and errors occur in health care, whether by commission or omission. To what extent are accidents preventable? In recent years, a number of countries have enacted regulatory bodies and strategies in pursuit of an answer or answers to this question. This paper is intended by John Braithwaite, Judith Healy, and Kathryn Dwan to engage the question and stimulate debate in Australia about how to improve the governance of health care safety and quality. They assert that regulatory thinking must transcend the polarized choice between persuasion and punishment as strategies to improve health safety and quality. A holistic approach to regulation is needed. Toward this end, they argue for responsive regulation (escalation from “soft” to “hard” instruments as needed), networked governance (as opposed to top-down government action), and meta-regulation (where self-regulation is monitored by an external third party). Additionally, they discuss restorative justice as an approach to dealing with health care tragedies where victims’ needs should be addressed and emotional wounds should be healed.

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