School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Clinical Governance & Risk Management (PHCM9748)

image - Clinical Governance & Risk Management

This is a PLuS Alliance course offered through UNSW. Students at UNSW, Arizona State University and Kings College London who are in a PLuS Alliance program can enrol into this course.


This course provides an overview of emerging health policy with particular attention to clinical governance. The course consists of three components. The first component targets the main constituents of clinical governance, including practice design, analysis and improvement, error reporting and investigation, public accountability and open disclosure, multi-disciplinary teamwork and clinical leadership. The second component introduces the tools of clinical process redesign. These tools can help managers make practical improvements to practices in their units. The third component targets risk management by providing an overview of the kinds of risks faced by health service managers, and by outlining different views of risk (adverse effect versus opportunity capital). The course is comprised of three case studies that engage students in addressing specific but generalisable manifestations of the three components that make up the course.

Credit points

This course is a core course of the Master of Health Management Program, comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to offer you the opportunity to discover and preview the knowledge, methods, and skills necessary to participate in, and help make sense of, continuous quality improvement in healthcare to enhance patient safety, improve clinical systems, and best manage clinical and organisational risks.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the basic factors necessary for continuous quality improvement in healthcare to enhance patient safety.
  2. Examine and critically discuss the key theories, methods and skills that have been found to enable continuous quality improvement in healthcare contexts, including the ability to: (a) Analyse the theoretical approaches and contemporary methods used for addressing risks within health care organisations, such as Root Cause Analysis. (b) Explain the emergence of clinical governance within the Australian context and its application for improving patient safety within local settings and its relevance to other health systems.
  3. Propose and justify a health improvement project for a workplace context and consider its implications for patient safety and quality of care.
  4. Outline and consider the implications of current research and novel techniques being implemented for translating improved clinical governance and risk management into a range of healthcare settings.
Learning and teaching rationale

The learning and teaching rationale for this course is based on the University’s Guidelines on Learning. These Guidelines identify five important factors that support the development of adult learning. These include the: active engagement of students in the learning process; contextualisation of students’ experiences; creating of an inclusive learning and teaching experience and environment; and the development of a curriculum and teaching methods which reflect these principles.

Teaching strategies

The teaching strategies in this course are based on three principles, which are in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the section on learning and teaching strategies.

  • Firstly, we designed this course to reflect current, real-life issues within health services. The materials and readings presented in the course are either classics, or the latest information available in the field.
  • Secondly, we ensured that the lecturers are all currently health professionals, policy makers or active health systems researchers, able to provide you with the necessary breadth and depth of knowledge to support your learning.
  • Finally, we assumed that as adult learners you needed and wanted to take an active role in your own development. This means that as well as completing your assessment tasks, you will be active participants in your own learning.

Assessment Task 1 - Peer Marking Assessment: Health System Quality Improvement – Quality and Safety Risks and Benefits Analysis
Weighting: 10%
Length: 1 A4 Page

Assessment Task 2 - Root Cause Analysis – Theory and Practice
Weighting: 40%
Length: 2000 words

Assessment Task 3 - Quality & Safety Workplace Improvement Project
Weighting: 50%
Length: 2000 words

Learning resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. The course notes with readings.
  2. PowerPoint presentations which will be made available the week of the session;
  3. Additional materials made available in class and after class, electronically, via Moodle.
  4. A Recommended textbook: Sollecito, W.A. & Johnson, J.K. (Eds.) (2013).  McLaughlin and Kaluzny’s Continuous quality improvement in health care (4th ed.).  Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

A full list of core and additional readings for each section of the course is set out in the 12 sections of the course. The readings have been selected for their relevance to each specific topic, and because they build on each other to provide you with an overview of this topic.