Safe practice of population-focused nursing care: Development of a public health nursing concept.

  Patient safety, a cornerstone of quality nursing care in most healthcare organizations, has not received attention in the specialty of public health nursing, owing to the conceptual challenges of applying this individual level concept to populations. Public health nurses (PHNs), by definition, provide population-focused care. Safe practice of population-focused nursing care involves preventing errors that would affect the health of entire populations and communities. The purpose of this article is to conceptually develop the public health nursing concept of safe practice of population-focused care and calls for related research. Key literature on patient safety is reviewed. Concepts applying to population-focused care are organized based on Donabedian's Framework. Structural, operational and system failures and process errors of omission and commission can occur at the population level of practice and potentially influence outcomes for population-patients. Practice, research and policy implications are discussed. Safe PHN population-focused practice deserves attention.