Certified Patient Safety Officer


The CPSO founded in 2006 was the first professional certification dedicated entirely to patient safety. CPSO holders come from a variety of healthcare backgrounds including patient safety, nursing, risk management, quality improvement, and other clinical services. CPSO credential holders make a difference in promoting, coordinating, and leading their organizations in proactive patient safety efforts. The CPSO exam addresses real world topics across the spectrum of patient safety issues including culture, communication, clinical issues, patient safety history, patient care challenges, organizational risks, process improvement, reliability concepts, leadership, environmental safety, emergency management, environment of care issues, occupational safety impacting patient care, pandemics, and personal protective equipment.  Earning the CPSO demonstrates a professional commitment to making a difference in patient lives and upgrading healthcare organizational systems and processes that prevents harm.  Earning the CPSO sends the message that patients do matter and are always more than just a number or a healthcare statistic.

CPSO Exam Blueprint

Domains100-150 items
1. Patient Safety Fundamentals36%
2.Patient Safety Hazards & Risks28%
3. Patient Safety Compliance36%

Domain 1 —Patient Safety Fundamentals (36%)

IBFCSM exams contain 100-150 multiple choice items. Exam results permit the assessment to determine a candidate’s minimum competency for certification. The blueprint reflects specifications published in the JTA Technical Report. Percentages reflect proportion of test items in each domain. Candidates use recall, recognition, comprehension, and application to answer items related to professional practice.

Domain 1 Topics

1.1 Given a scenario identify key adverse event issues

1.2 Identify issues related to change analysis

1.3 Identify issues impacting clinical communication

1.4 Identify the importance of collecting patient information

1.5 Identify common never events

1.6 Identify concepts related to deferring to medical expertise

1.7 Given a scenario identify key issues of an adverse event

1.8 Identify key discipline approaches in non-punitive cultures

1.9 Identify duty of care requirements

1.10 Identify evidenced based medicine

1.11 Given a scenario identify correct management functions

1.12 Identify healthcare organizational priorities

1.13 Identify key milestones in the history of patient safety

1.14 Given a scenario identify human error and steps to improve reliability

1.15 Identify ways to lead using management principles

1.16 Identify medical staff issues that impact patient safety

1.17 Identify medication safety risks and issues

1.18 Identify organizational climate and structures

1.19 Identify common patient care risks

1.20 Given a scenario identify key patient data and information

1.21 Identify ways to encourage patient participation in care

1.22 Identify key patient safety officer duties

1.23 Identify correct definitions of patient safety terms

1.24 Identity important issues related to accountability and behaviors

1.25 Given a scenario identify how risk management impacts patient safety

1.26 Given a scenario identify challenges and to culture change

1.27 Identify ways senior leaders can promote patient safety

1.28 Identify how teamwork understanding improves safety

1.29 Identify why transparency and trust promotes proactive safety efforts

1.30 Identify reasons for understanding human errors

Domain 2 –Patient Safety Hazards & Risks (28%)

Domain 2 Topics

2.1 Identify methods for analyzing patient safety incidents

2.2 Identify steps to take to facilitate culture change

2.3 Identify the importance of building trusting cultures

2.4 Identify reliability science

2.5 Given a scenario identify the importance of delegation of authority

2.6 Given a scenario identify ways to evaluate human factors impact on safety

2.7 Identify high reliability methods applicable to healthcare organizations

2.8 Identify reasons to use good Improvement processes

2.9 Given a scenario identify key findings of an investigation

2.10 Identify situations that illustrate a need for change

2.11 Identify issues related to outcome improvement

2.12 Identify effective patient safety initiatives

2.13 Identify the need for proactive performance improvement

2.14 Given a scenario prioritize corrective actions

2.15 Given a scenario identify the need for proactive safety efforts

2.16 Identify the key elements in an effective problem solving process

2.17 Identify an effective error reporting process

2.18 Identify a conflict that occurs between risk and quality management

2.19 Given a scenario identify the reason for conducting a safety assessment

2.20 Identify how safety cultures can impact reporting processes

2.21 Given a scenario identify an occurrence that meet Sentinel event threshold

2.22 Identify why statistics does not always reveal patient safety hazards

2.23 Identify the best definition of strategic initiatives

2.24 Identify why system method can improve patient outcomes

2.25 Identify why teamwork improves patient safety

2.26 Identify the reasons that leaders must better understand failure

Domain 3— Patient Safety Compliance (36%)

Domain 3 Topics

3.1 Identify accreditations requirements that address patient safety

3.2 Given a scenario identify common adverse events

3.3 Identify why some professional connect patient safety EOC issues

3.4 Identify reason that communicating safety issues can become difficult

3.5 Identify the role that diagnostic errors play in patient outcomes

3.6 Given a scenario identify why emergency management is patient safety issue

3.7 Identify why facility safety impacts patient care

3.8 Identify the importance of developing a hazardous drug safety plan

3.9 Identify reasons that Infection control and prevention is critical for patients

3.10 Identify effective infection prevention methods

3.11Identify common or key adverse patient events

3.12 Given a scenario identify why it is important to maintaining care levels

3.13 Identify a situation where medical equipment safety impacts patient safety

3.14 Identify safe medication management processes

3.15 Identify common patient safety clinical hazards

3.16 Identify patient evacuation process

3.17 Identify hospital responsibilities for patient fall prevention

3.18 Identify the purpose for patient safety organizations

3.19 Identify patient safety responsibilities for support personnel

3.20 Identify pharmacy hazards that can escalate in a patient adverse event

3.21Given a scenario identify reasons many safety committees perform ineffectively

3.22 Identify sharp and blunt end issues that threaten patient safety

CPSO Sample Questions

  1. Which term does the Institute of Medicine (IOM) use to describe a patient injury resulting from poor medical management rather than underlying disease?

a. Adverse event*

b. Near miss

c. An error


  1. Which of the following would be a model for culture change that focuses on factors other than those involved in a patient caregiver event?

a. Swiss-Cheese Model

b. Blunt and Sharp End Process*

c. Hindsight Bias


  1. Which of the following would be the primary purpose for identifying and analyzing a medical error that does not produce any patient injury or harm?

a. Report the error to state medical and nursing boards

b. Identify and hold accountable persons responsible

c. Help identify flaws within the system or any sub system*


  1. Which of the following actions would contribute the most to reducing risks of organizational acquired infections in a hospitalized patient?

a. Use disposable medical supplies in all times patient or treatment areas

b. Establish a multi-disciplinary infection control committee to evaluate risks

c. Require staff to follow established organizational hand sanitizing protocols*

CPSO Study Resources

  • Healthcare Hazard Control and Safety Management, 3rd Edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2014, J.T. Tweedy, ISBN: 978-1-4822-0655-5  Buy it here!
  • CPSO Self Directed Study Guide, TLCS, available in downladable PDF. Buy it here!
  • Healthcare Safety for Nursing Personnel, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2015, J.T. Tweedy, ISBN: 978-1-4822-3027-7 Buy it here!
    To Do No Harm, Jossey-Bass/Wiley & Sons, San Francisco, CA, 2005, J.M. Morath & J.E. Turnbull, ISBN: 0-7879-6770-X
  • Principles of Risk Management and Patient Safety, Jones & Bartlett, Sudbury, MA, 2011, B.J. Youngberg, IBSN: 978-0-7637-7405-9
  • NFPA 99-2012, Health Care Facilities Code Handbook, NFPA, Quincy, MA, 2011, MA, R.E. Bielen & J.K. Lathrop, ISBN: 978-161665141-1