The World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded The Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill, a contract to oversee global field-testing of the long-planned international classification for patient safety (ICPS). The project is sponsored by the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety and overseen by a panel of international experts.

The ICPS seeks to define, harmonize, and group patient safety concepts into an internationally agreed upon classification in a way that is conducive to learning and to improving patient safety across health systems. The system is designed to translate patient safety data and information into a common terminology; facilitate the systematic collection of patient safety data and information; enable data to be aggregated and compared; and provide a basis for international analysis.

Field-testing efforts will determine the extent to which the ICPS reflects the realities and scope of patient safety worldwide, is feasible to implement across disparate health care settings, and produces valid and reliable results, which can be used to enhance patient safety globally.

The National Quality Forum has endorsed the taxonomy as the US standard. The official version of the ICPS is expected to be available for global implementation in late 2008.