Across the world, healthcare providers are increasingly obliged to adopt a systematic approach towards reducing the risk of harm to patients. In the UK, impetus for such an approach was provided by the report An Organisation with a Memory, which emphasised the need to learn from clinical error. A major step was taken with the establishment of the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in 2001. In the USA, Australia and other countries, various governmental and nongovernmental agencies have led the way in the setting of standards, training and research on issues of patient safety.
Maternity care is particularly susceptible to risk and, in England, the safety of maternity services has been the subject of recent inquiries and reviews. The National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has developed a separate assessment scheme for maternity units, encompassing a wide range of standards. The equivalent schemes in Wales and Scotland are the Welsh Risk Pool and the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS), respectively.
While maternity care is widely recognised as a high-risk specialty, risk management is also pertinent to gynaecological practice.