Long S., Vincent C.
Patient safety is at the core of medicine, yet it is only relatively recently that rigorous academic study has deepened our understanding of the incidence, underlying causes and outcomes of healthcare-associated harm. More work is needed to explore patient safety in older people, particularly those who are frail, with multiple comorbidities, polypharmacy and cognitive and sensory impairment, who experience more adverse events than their younger counterparts. Adverse events in frail older people include the 'geriatric syndromes', in addition to those also experienced by younger patients. Key areas of focus for improving patient safety in older people include the design of safer healthcare systems for this vulnerable population, the early detection, prevention and management of the geriatric syndromes, providing education for individual clinicians to enhance decision-making, assessment and team working skills, and efforts to reduce ageism and negative attitudes towards older people and their care. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.