Regulation and governance

Regulation and governance are important mechanisms of oversight and control that shape patient safety improvement activities.

Regulation and governance are essential components of managing and improving patient safety, but can often be viewed as bureaucratic processes that operate at great distance from the point of care.


Regulators and regulation are key to improving safety across whole healthcare systems, and can provide valuable and practical guidance to staff and organisations which helps improve patient safety.

Regulators come in many different forms, from statutory regulators that set and enforce basic standards, to professional bodies and insurers. The standards and guidance produced by many regulators is practical, specific and can be helpful in shaping and guiding patient safety improvement activities.


Good governance typically operates through the activities of effective boards within healthcare organisations (see this guide from the IHI about how to get boards on board). Boards and board members can be influential and important leaders of patient safety by setting the tone and expectations that diffuse throughout in organisation. 

Tools and guidance

A range of guidance and tools exist (such as Effective Governance for Quality and Patient Safety from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute) that are designed to support boards and board members in designing and implementing effective governance systems.

There is also specific guidance on what boards should pay attention to and how they should organise their meetings and oversight activities.

All resources on regulation and governance