Observed on September 17th, International Patient Safety Day is a worldwide appeal for solidarity and action towards healthcare improvement and reduction of unsafe medical practices. It unites patients, families, caregivers, healthcare professionals and policy makers, allowing them to demonstrate their dedication to the matter.
Impact of Unsafe Medical Practices
According to data from the World Health Organization, one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world is the occurrence of events due to unsafe care. As many as 4 in 10 patients are reported to suffer harm in primary and outpatient health care, with up to 80% of harm being preventable.
The WHO list the following patient safety situations as some of the ones causing most concern:
- Medication errors
- Healthcare-associated infections
- Unsafe surgical care procedures
- Diagnostic errors
- Unsafe transfusion practices
- Diagnostic errors
- Unsafe transfusion practices
- Radiation errors
- Blood clots
Patient Safety as a Discipline
As healthcare systems become more evolved and complex, patient harm increases. The healthcare discipline of Patient Safety aims to prevent and reduce the risks of harm occurring to patients while they are being provided with healthcare and to facilitate continuous improvement through learning from past errors.
Patient safety is an essential part of delivering quality essential health services that are not only effective and people-centred, but also timely and efficient. The discipline focuses on successfully implementing patient safety strategies and highlights the need for clear policies, highly skilled healthcare professionals and sufficient data on which to base safety improvements.
The World Health Organisation recognizes Patient Safety as an integral part of making progress towards achieving effective Universal Health Coverage, reducing the costs related to patient harm, and improving efficiency in health care systems.
Improving Your Safety as a Patient
Not just health care providers, but patients themselves can also contribute to their own safety. There are various ways in which you can do this:
Maintain Good Communication With Your Doctor
Explaining your condition and symptoms during medical appointments can be nerve-wracking, especially if your doctor is not a particularly great communicator. Nevertheless, it is of great importance that you ensure an open dialogue is being maintained so that your healthcare provider is aware of how you’re feeling.
Be Mindful About Prescribed Pharmaceuticals
A big part of the patient safety errors that occur are related to delivering and taking medicine. To prevent mistakes, read the labels on your medication and always double-check the correct dosage. If there is anything you are unsure about in relation to pharmaceuticals, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Ask for Support
You might feel like you are not able to clearly express your concerns, give sufficient details or remember all of your questions when the time for your appointment comes. This is completely normal. If you are experiencing this, it might be a good idea to ask a friend or a family member to act as your advocate and help you communicate all the information that your doctor needs to make an adequate decision about your healthcare.
Contributing to Patient Safety as a Healthcare Provider/Organisation
Healthcare providers have a duty to continuously work towards the improvement of patient safety and enhancement of medical efficiency. This is why implementing effective strategies for safe care should be a top priority for every healthcare institution.
Encourage Incident Reporting
Learning from incidents is an integral part of improving patient safety. This is why incident reporting should be a priority for every healthcare institution so that any trends can then be identified, and an analysis can be performed on the incidents which have occurred, contributing to care improvement.
Facilitate Patient Input
Ensuring that patients are actively engaged in their care is an important part of improving medical outcomes. Not only are they the ones to go though the entire process of receiving medical care and can thus provide unique insight about any imperfections involved in it but are also the only ones who can ensure that all relevant medical history-related information is being included into the decisions that are being made about their health.
Follow Safety Procedures
Both employers and employees working in healthcare institutions must have a good understanding of their role in organizational safety. This can include following various duties related to patient safety or ensuring that all employees have the required knowledge and skills to perform their responsibilities.
We at Meduc8ion understand the importance of patient safety. This is why our courses are designed to prioritise safe practice at all times, providing clients with the necessary skillset and knowledge to perform gold standard procedures. Click here to browse our range!