Patient Safety

patient-safety

    Overview

    There is a 1 in 300 chance of health care-induced injury that equates to thousands of premature deaths daily. Patient safety is a fundamental principle and important measures must be taken to prevent any adverse events. Adverse events may result from problems in practise, products, procedures or systems.

    Statistics in developed countries show that as many as 1 in 10 patients are harmed while receiving hospital care. In the African Region, the probability of being harmed in a hospital is higher and the risk of acquiring a health care-associated infection is as much as 20 times higher.

    Hand hygiene is the most important measure to prevent health care-associated infections, the development of antimicrobial resistance, and the transmission of harmful germs and viruses. Problems associated with surgical safety account for half of the avoidable adverse events that result in death or disability.

    Reuse of injection devices in the absence of sterilization is the greatest concern and leads to the heaviest burden of disease. In some countries, injections given with reused syringes or needles, without sterilization, are as high as 70%. This accounted for an estimated 22 million new hepatitis B infections, 2 million new hepatitis C infections, and 260 000 new HIV infections.

    Additional Information

    Hand hygiene - why, how and when [pdf, 476kb]

     

     

    Factsheet

    10 Facts on Patient Safety 

    Patient safety is a serious global public health issue. Estimates show that in developed countries as many as one in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care.

    Of every hundred 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire health care-associated infections. Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by this worldwide each year.

    In recent years, countries have increasingly recognized the importance of improving patient safety. In 2002, WHO Member States agreed on a World Health Assembly resolution on patient safety.

    Patient safety is a serious global public health issue

    There is now growing recognition that patient safety and quality is a critical dimension of universal health coverage. Since the launch of the WHO Patient Safety Programme in 2004, over 140 countries have worked to address the challenges of unsafe care.

    One in 10 patients may be harmed while in hospital

    Estimates show that in developed countries as many as 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care. The harm can be caused by a range of errors or adverse events.

    Hospital infections affect 14 out of every 100 patients admitted

    Of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire health care-associated infections (HAIs). Hundreds of millions of patients are affected worldwide each year. Simple and low-cost infection prevention and control measures, such as appropriate hand hygiene, can reduce the frequency of HAIs by more than 50%.

    Most people lack access to appropriate medical devices

    There are an estimated 1.5 million different medical devices and over 10 000 types of devices available worldwide. The majority of the world's population is denied adequate access to safe and appropriate medical devices within their health systems. More than half of low- and lower middle-income countries do not have a national health technology policy which could ensure the effective use of resources through proper planning, assessment, acquisition and management of medical devices.

    Unsafe injections decreased by 88% from 2000 to 2010

    Key injection safety indicators measured in 2010 show that important progress has been made in the reuse rate of injection devices (5.5% in 2010), while modest gains were made through the reduction of the number of injections per person per year (2.88 in 2010).

    Delivery of safe surgery requires a teamwork approach

    An estimated 234 million surgical operations are performed globally every year. Surgical care is associated with a considerable risk of complications. Surgical care errors contribute to a significant burden of disease despite the fact that 50% of complications associated with surgical care are avoidable.

    About 20%–40% of all health spending is wasted due to poor-quality care

    Safety studies show that additional hospitalization, litigation costs, infections acquired in hospitals, disability, lost productivity and medical expenses cost some countries as much as US$ 19 billion annually. The economic benefits of improving patient safety are therefore compelling.

    A poor safety record for health care

    Industries with a perceived higher risk such as the aviation and nuclear industries have a much better safety record than health care. There is a 1 in 1 000 000 chance of a traveller being harmed while in an aircraft. In comparison, there is a 1 in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during health care.

    Patient and community engagement and empowerment are key

    People’s experience and perspectives are valuable resources for identifying needs, measuring progress and evaluating outcomes.

    Hospital partnerships can play a critical role

    Hospital-to-hospital partnerships to improving patient safety and quality of care have been used for technical exchange between health workers for a number of decades. These partnerships provide a channel for bi-directional patient safety learning and the co-development of solutions in rapidly evolving global health systems.