This report is the first joint publication of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (the AIHW). It demonstrates a shared commitment to the use of information that will help to make Australia’s health care as safe and high quality as possible. The report is Australia’s first national report of sentinel events and builds on important earlier work by all Australian governments.

Safety and quality in health care are of major importance to Australians and their representatives. All Australians will receive health care at some time in their lives. As our health improves, and knowledge about health and health care grows, there are increasing expectations that our health system will achieve better standards of safety and quality.

To help meet these expectations, Australian Health Ministers recently created the Commission. The Commission’s role is to lead, coordinate and monitor improvements in the safety and quality of patient care. For its part, the AIHW aims to promote better health and wellbeing through national leadership in developing and providing health and welfare statistics and information. With these complementary functions, the partnership of the two agencies will be a key to the Commission’s success in improving national information on safety and quality.