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