Professor Bill Runciman

  • Adjunct Research Professor Australian Centre For Precision Health
  • University of South Australia
Professor Bill Runciman

Professor Runciman has always been at the forefront of Patient Safety. After 38 years in clinical practice, in 2007, he turned his attention to full-time patient safety research at the University of South Australia. In 1988 he formed the Australian Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), the first such organisation in the world. His incident reporting system was endorsed by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) in The Hague in 1992 where he was appointed inaugural Chair of the Safety and Quality of Practise Committee of the WFSA (1992-2000). His pioneering work contributed to safety programs in many countries and after 30 years is now widely used in State and Commonwealth Departments of Health.

He was a Chief Investigator on the Quality of Australian Health Care Study (QAHCS). The QAHCS is the most cited paper in the first 100 years of Medical Journal of Australia. His foundation work in terminology and classification for analysing incidents and adverse events became the basis of the International Classification for Patient Safety. He was a member of a National Task Force for Patient Safety (1996-1998), the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Healthcare (2000-2005), and the Australian Health Information Council (2003-2005). Bill has written over 300 publications, over 200 peer-reviewed (>16,000 citations, average >50 per paper, over 40 with 100, and at the end of 2019, over 80 with 50 or more citations, H index = 60), has given over 600 presentations in 42 countries, supervised 30 postgraduate students, and received (with others) over AUD 40 million in research money (over 20 Category A Grants); his ‘share’ was AUD 10 million.

He is a recipient of the top research awards of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, as well as of a Jubilee Medal from his alma mater. He was the third recipient of the Pugh Award for making an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science of anaesthesia, intensive care and related disciplines, and he was awarded the Robert Orton Medal – the highest honour awarded by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

In 2018 he was elected as one of 35 Foundation Members of the Academy of the International Society for Safety and Quality in Healthcare and was one of two finalists for the Research Australia Awards for Health Services Research. In 2019 he was an author of another paper which won the Peter Reizenstein Prize for best paper of the year in the” International Journal for Quality in Health Care”.

His foundational work in defining patient safety concepts and terms and in classification development has transformed the knowledge base of this field, and the setting of standards for safety in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care has changed clinical practice forever; several causes of brain damage and death have been consigned to the history books in countries which have adopted them. Moves by the WFSA and the World Health Organisation to apply these world-wide are well underway.

More recently he has been involved into looking at what drives clinical decision making for both the patients and health care providers perspectives. His current work is on the ethics of artificial intelligence and of the implications of a continuation of the current potentially disastrous laissez-faire approach.

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