WHO: first-ever World Patient Safety Day September 17

20 September, 2019



What is Patient Safety?

Patient Safety is a health care discipline that emerged with the evolving complexity in health care systems and the resulting rise of patient harm in health care facilities. It aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm that occur to patients during provision of health care. A cornerstone of the discipline is continuous improvement based on learning from errors and adverse events.

Key facts

- Adverse events due to unsafe care is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world (1).

- In high-income countries, it is estimated that one in every 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care (2). The harm can be caused by a range of adverse events, with nearly 50% of them being preventable (3).

- 134 million adverse events occur each year in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), resulting in 2.6 million deaths annually due to unsafe care (4).

- Another study has estimated that around two-thirds of all adverse events resulting from unsafe care, and the years lost to disability and death (known as disability adjusted life years, or DALYs) occur in LMICs (5).

- Globally, as many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient health care. Up to 80% of harm is preventable. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines (6).

- 15% of total hospital activity and expenditure in OECD countries is a direct result of adverse events (2).

- Investments in reducing patient harm can lead to significant financial savings, and more importantly better patient outcomes (2). An example of prevention is engaging patients, if done well, it can reduce the burden of harm by up to 15% (6).

HIFA profile: Eileen McGinn is a Consultant in USA. qedeileen AT aol.com