Recognizing that Patient Safety is a global health priority, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a resolution (WHA 72.6 ‘Global action on patient safety’ ) on Patient Safety which endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day to be observed annually by Member States on 17 September.
The first World Patient Day was observed during 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.
Patient safety is fundamental to delivering quality essential health services. Indeed, there is a clear consensus that quality health services across the world should be effective, safe and people-centred. In addition, to realize the benefits of quality health care, health services must be timely, equitable, integrated and efficient.
To ensure successful implementation of patient safety strategies; clear policies, leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled health care professionals and effective involvement of patients in their care, are all needed.
Burden of patient harm
Patient safety in health care is an urgent and serious global public health concern. Patient harm exerts a very high burden on all health care systems across the world. Every year, an inadmissible number of patients suffer injuries or die because of unsafe and poor quality health care. Most of these injuries are avoidable. The burden of unsafe care broadly highlights the magnitude and scale of the problem.
Patient harm due to adverse events is likely to be among the 10 leading causes of death and disability worldwide.
Most of these deaths and injuries are avoidable.
It is commonly reported that around 1 in 10 hospitalized patients experience harm, with at least 50% being preventable.
Around two-thirds of all adverse events resulting from unsafe care, and the years lost to disability and death, occur in LMICs.
It is estimated that the cost of harm associated with the loss of life or permanent disability, which results in lost capacity and productivity of the affected patients and families, amounts to trillions of US dollars every year. Furthermore, the psychological cost to the patient and their family (associated with the loss or disabling of a loved one), is certainly significant, though more difficult to measure.
Theme for 2022
"Medication Safety" has been selected as the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022.
Medications are the most widely utilized interventions in health care, and medication-related harm constitutes the greatest proportion of the total preventable harm due to unsafe care, let alone the economic and psychological burden imposed by such harm.
Medication harm accounts for 50% of the overall preventable harm in medical care. US$ 42 billion of global total health expenditure worldwide can be avoided if medication errors are prevented.
Policy-makers and programme managers
Ensure medication safety is addressed at all levels and in all settings in the health care system
Assess the burden of medication-related harm in your country
Integrate medication safety into every stage of patient care
Co-design and implement medication safety programmes with stakeholders, including patients and public
Establish a patient safety incident reporting and learning system, including medication safety incidents (medication errors and related harm)
Monitor progress and evaluate the impact of medication safety programmes
Launch Know. Check. Ask. as the medication safety campaign across the country
Health care leaders and facility managers
Designate a focal point and a multidisciplinary team to develop processes to ensure medication safety in your facility
Develop and implement standard operating procedures for safe medication use, taking into account the risk of human error
Make sure there are sufficient staff to cover patients’ medication needs
Provide opportunities to train health workers on safe medication use
Operationalize a patient safety incident reporting and learning system, including medication safety incidents (medication errors and related harm)
Create a safety culture where health workers are able to raise safety concerns related to medications
Prioritize action in areas where most medication-related harm occurs, such as high-risk situations, transitions of care and polypharmacy
Put in place strategies to reduce the risk of medication errors, such as double-checking, patient engagement and using information technology to improve processes
Keep your skills in safe medication practices up to date
Engage patients through shared decision-making using tools such as the 5 Moments for Medication Safety and implement actions related to the Know. Check. Ask. campaign
Provide clear and full medication-related information to all members of the clinical team throughout the process of care
Report medication safety incidents, and share and apply lessons learned with your team and patients when possible
Be mindful of situations where risk from medications is high and ensure safety measures are followed
Mentor new members of your team on safe medication systems and practices
Patients, families and general public
When prescribed a medication, check with your health worker that you have all the information you need to take it safely. Follow the Know. Check. Ask. actions
Keep an up-to-date list of all the medications you take, including traditional medicines, and share it with your treating health workers
Take your medications as recommended by your health worker
Use the 5 Moments for Medication Safety tool to keep you safe while taking your medications
Be aware of the potential side-effects of your medications
Store your medications as indicated and check the expiration date regularly
Raise any concerns about your medication with your health worker