World Patient Safety Day 2017

World Patient Safety Day 2017

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Highlights:
  • The World Patient Safety Day 2017 is celebrated on the 9th December every year
  • There is an urgent need to improve patient safety by reducing preventable medical errors
  • Patients should keep themselves well informed about their illness and the treatment they receive
The World Patient Safety Day is celebrated on the 9th December every year to highlight the importance of the safety of patients who seek medical care.
  • One out of 10 patients may be harmed during treatment in a hospital in developed countries
  • Fourteen out of every 100 individuals admitted to a hospital suffer from hospital-acquired infections, which is more difficult to treat than community-acquired infections
  • The chances that a traveler will be harmed on a flight are much less than in a hospital
  • Most adverse effects are caused by surgical procedures, followed by medications and hospital-acquired infections
A basic tenet in medicine is that no harm should be done to the patient seeking treatment. The patient should leave the clinic or the hospital feeling much better than when he/she came in for the medical care.
World Patient Safety Day 2017

Sometimes, a medication can cause some harm in the form of an adverse effect. While some adverse effects cannot be predicted, a medicine should be administered only when the estimated benefit exceeds the potential harm. For example, anticancer drugs cause side effects but since they control a potentially life-threatening condition, it is usually okay to administer them.

Medical errors on the other hand, should be controlled as far as possible. Medical errors are a problem in both the developed as well as the developing world. The health care systems are often overburdened with inadequate staff overworking to meet the pressing needs of the population, thus contributing to the errors. In the developing world, poor hygienic conditions and lack of basic equipment only add to the problem.

Medical errors have several impacts - they can affect the patient physically, sometimes affecting the work capacity or even causing death, psychologically as well as financially. Though patients are today protected through various laws, the process of litigation may not be an easy one.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed on the importance of patient safety. Patient safety can be improved through the joint effort of doctors, hospitals as well as patients to improve the quality of care administered to patients:

Doctors: Doctors are primarily responsible for patient safety since they decide on and guide the treatment of the patient. Some measures that doctors can take to reduce medical errors include the following:
  • Adequate time should be spent with the patient to ensure that a correct diagnosis is made. After all, the treatment administered to the patient is determined based on the diagnosis
  • All prescriptions should be written clearly and in capital letters. Several medications have similar names, but are used for completely different conditions. A clear prescription is necessary so that there are no errors while dispensing the medications
  • Medications should be prescribed only as needed, without over prescribing. Too many medications can interact with each other and only add to the adverse effects. The patient should be properly instructed about precautions to be taken while taking the medications to ensure optimal efficacy and minimal side effects
Hospitals: Hospitals should give priority to implementing patient safety policies:
  • The prevention of infection in hospitals is extremely important. Regular hand washing by the hospital staff is the simplest measure that can reduce infections to a large extent. Proper sterilization of the equipment, the use of only disposable syringes, the maintenance of cleanliness and the segregation of high-risk individuals can help to reduce the spread of infection among patients
  • Proper handovers should be given during the change of staff during shifts
  • Data regarding medical errors should be obtained and analyzed regularly so that they can be avoided in the future
Patients: Patients are the victims of inadequate safety during treatment. They should be involved in the health care process, which can help in reducing errors to a large extent:
  • The patient should seek information about the illness and should clear any doubt with the doctor. If the doubt persists, they should seek a second opinion. They should report any side effects to the prescribing doctor at the earliest
  • The patients should inform the doctor about any allergy or any disease condition that they may be suffering from or other medications that they may be taking. This would help the doctor decide on the most appropriate medication for the particular patient.
Besides the above, the governments should have clear policies regarding patient safety to improve the quality of treatment so that patients feel safe during treatment. Systems for reporting adverse effects should be in place so that the knowledge gained from them can be used to improve patient care. Ensuring patient safety will not only result in a better experience for the patient but will also reduce the cost of treatment, as well as avoid the pain of litigation.

References:
  1. 10 facts on patient safety - (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/patient_safety/en/)
  2. World Alliance for Patient Safety - (http://www.who.int/patientsafety/en/brochure_final.pdf)
Source-Medindia

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