World Patient Safety Day 2016: “Importance of Patient Safety”

World Patient Safety Day 2016: “Importance of Patient Safety”

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Highlights
  • One in ten patients suffers from some hospital-acquired condition
  • Hospital-acquired microbes give rise to drug-resistant infections
  • The World Patient Safety Day is observed on the 9th of December every year to increase awareness about patient safety which is an important aspect of health care.
The World Patient Safety Day 2016 is being observed on December 9, 2016 to improve awareness about the importance of patient safety in a healthcare setting.
World Patient Safety Day 2016: “Importance of Patient Safety”

Patients visit hospitals with the hope that they will be cured of their illnesses. They put their full trust in the healthcare system to relieve them of their discomfort. It is therefore the responsibility of the healthcare system to ensure that the patients' safety is maintained, and that they don't go back with an illness that they did not have in the first place.

Hospital-acquired infections are a common problem. When you sit in an outpatient department waiting for the doctor, there is a high chance that the person next to you may also be suffering from an infection, which you may contract. Hospitals also have several inpatients who harbor antibiotic-resistant infections. Drug-resistant infections are extremely difficult to treat and associated with a higher rate of complications.

Of extreme importance are the blood borne infections like HIV and hepatitis B that can spread through a needle-stick injury, unsterilized instruments or through blood transfusion, and can have a lasting effect on the patient. This also highlights the importance of testing donated blood adequately before it is transfused.

There are several ways in which hospitals can protect patients and caregivers from acquiring new infections.
  • The simple procedure of washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer between seeing patients can prevent several infections
  • Hospitals should take proper antiseptic precautions. The furniture, walls and floor should be regularly sanitized with antiseptics that the microbes are sensitive to. Instruments used for examining and treating the patient should be well sterilized after every use.
  • Hospital waste should be properly discarded
  • Inpatients especially with drug-resistant infections should be segregated from the others
The surgical patient is not only exposed to infections, but also can suffer from complications due to the anesthesia and injury to other organs during the surgery. The hospital staff should be competent to avoid preventable complications. Likewise, pregnant women and their babies are also at high risk of preventable complications during childbirth; steps should be taken to avoid these as well.

The hospitals should also train their doctors and other staff to prevent any mishaps. One common cause of mishaps are the illegible prescriptions. Many drugs have similar names, and the pharmacist may be substituted one for the other if the prescription is not clear, resulting in grave consequences for the patient.

Prescriptions should be clearly written so that there is no error by the pharmacist in dispensing the medications.

A common complaint from patients is that doctors do not have enough time for them. However, proper communication between the doctor and the patient is extremely important to minimize treatment errors. It is better to consult doctors who have the time to see you, rather than choosing the busiest doctor in town. Proper communication should also be maintained between the doctor and the hospital staff so that every staff member involved in the patient's care is aware of the patient's requirements. Patient safety checklists can help to cover all the aspects related to patient safety.

Research on how to avoid errors in medical practice should also be carried out. A reporting system can help to track safety-related issues for the patient, which should later be discussed and steps should be taken to avoid these in the future. Technology can also help to maintain centralized patient records. For example, if the patient visits a skin specialist regularly and now needs to meet a nephrologist in the same hospital, centralized records can give an idea to the nephrologist as to the type of treatment the patient is already receiving.

Though the onus of patient safety is primarily on the healthcare system, patients can also participate to ensure that they are not harmed in the hospitals:
  • Patients should inform their doctor if they are on any treatment, if they are allergic to any medications, or if they are pregnant or breastfeeding in case of women. This will help the doctor to plan the treatment better.
  • Telling the doctor about any illness in the family can also help him/her to reach a correct diagnosis and ensure proper treatment.
  • Patients should follow the doctor's instructions carefully to ensure maximum benefit and least complications
  • Patients admitted in hospitals and their caregivers should use an alcohol-based sanitizer on a regular basis
References:
  1. Environmentally and socially responsible procurement - (http://www.who.int)
Source: Medindia

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