Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler When I Use a Word . . .


BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 03 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3521
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

The importance of defining terms clearly cannot be overstated. However, the term “safety” has not been clearly defined in medical practice, although it is widely bandied about in phrases such as “patient safety,” “safety culture,” “safety standards,” “safety indicators,” “health and safety,” and “drug safety.” Pubmed lists over 50 journals with “safety” in the title, including Drug Safety and Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety; some deal with safety, others with harms. And numerous books, too many to list, include the words “patient safety.”

“Safety” is “exemption …

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