Abstract Introduction and objective Patient safety is a concept of great importance to managers, health professionals, and patients and their families, given patient safety promotes more effective care and reduces costs. Moreover, while analyzing the area of anesthesiology, one can realize the epidemiological changes, increased complexity and number of procedures, and the adoption of a new matrix of essential skills mandatory for residents of anesthesiology in Brazil. Thus, it is relevant to identify current patient safety competences among anesthesiology residents. Methods A systematic review was elaborated using PubMed, SciELO, BVS, Cochrane Library, LILACS and CAPES databases with the descriptors “anesthesiology”, “patient safety”, “residency” and “competence”. Results and conclusions Thirteen articles published in the past 10 years were analyzed. The articles depicted competences grouped into three categories: knowledge (identification, prevention and management of adverse events; use of correct and up-to-date information; understanding of human factors; and continuous learning), skills (efficient communication; teamwork; leadership; decision-making; and self-confidence), and attitude (management of stress and fatigue; and infection control). All these skills can be developed and assessed through simulation and active learning methods, profiting from a multidisciplinary approach. Studies also reveal that residents perform poorly in certain patient safety domains due to lack of effective in-depth understanding, appreciation of the topic and ineffective teaching. As a result, greater investment in the topic is needed by teaching and health institutions and researchers.