World Patient Safety Day: what role for HIFA? (2)

18 September, 2020

Julie, thanks for asking: "How can HIFA help improve patient safety?"

There are lots of ways of answering this question. One way is to say that progress in achieving the HIFA vision (a world where every person has access to the healthcare infomraiton they need to protect their own health and the health of others) will directly improve patient safety.

You pointed out the sentence: 'It [patient safety] can be maximized by providing guidance for, and training of, healthcare providers; adhering to WHO recommendations on the quality of medicines and on where and how to intervene'.

Absolutely. A leading cause (arguably the leading and fundamental cause) of unsafe health care is a failure to access and apply reliable healthcare information. This is particularly so in low-resource settings.

In high-resource settings, patient safety is typically due to individual/multiple errors, systems dysfunction and/or miscommunication. In low-resource settings, these all apply, but risk is multiplied manyfold because one or more of the healthcare provider's *basic* needs are not being met.

All healthcare providers have a range of basic needs that must be met to ensure safe delivery of the care for which they are trained. On HIFA we have summarised these as:

• Skills

• Equipment

• Information

• Systems

• Medicines

• Incentives

• Communication facilities.

This spells the acronym SEISMIC - a seismic shift is needed to address the needs of front-line healthcare providers, particularly in low-resource settings.

I look forward to hear thoughts from others.

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: