This study reviews the development and implementation of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) patient safety indicators (PSIs). The genesis of the use of administrative data as a tool to combat safety problems is presented, and how indicators were constructed using various administrative codes. Examples of how the PSIs are being used to identify potential safety problems within the general population are presented, with a special emphasis on how these are being used within the perinatal and neonatal arena to understand current issues within that subpopulation. Results from studies within the general population and targeted at perinatal and neonatal patients are presented. Finally, suggestions are discussed for clinicians to use the AHRQ PSIs as one of their early warning tools for potential safety-related problems.