Health care facilities are functional and profitable institutions to the extent that patients trust these facilities to provide the best care for the injured or sick. Given that medical errors were found to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, it is understandable why patient mistrust is so widespread (World Health Organization [WHO], 2017).
Twenty-seven percent of medical errors are related to surgical procedures, 18.3% are related to medication errors, and 12.2% are related to health-care associated infections. These numbers also have to be taken with a grain of salt, as these errors are often underreported. This is dangerous because it impedes progress in the prevention of medical errors. The WHO (2017) explains that “clear policies, organizational leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled health care professionals, and effective involvement of patients in their care” are necessary to improve the current status of patient safety in health. Therefore each healthcare facility has to take measures to improve the safety of patients on its premises. By utilizing various online platforms, like an online course platform available with continuing medical education software by CertCentral.com, health care facilities can train staff according to the best practices and certify competence to ensure patient safety. Additionally, by utilizing an online course system, health care institutions can easily deliver any other training information to reiterate important policies to staff at a low cost.
According to the WHO (2017), providing optimal patient care should be the priority of every health institution, especially when these costs improve patient safety, saving American citizens trillions of dollars and hospitals billions of dollars over time. The WHO Patient Safety and Risk Management unit is set to accelerate patient safety improvement policy and manage risk to prevent harm to patients both on a national and international level. The following list outlines methods set forth by the WHO in 2017 to improve patient safety.
7 Ways to Improve Patient Safety
- The Medication Without Harm Global Challenge is one method that the WHO set forth to improve patient safety. The goal of this challenge is to decrease avoidable and severe medication-related harm to patients by 50% over the span of 5 years. Through this initiative the WHO intends to:
- provide financial support to countries developing national programs and conducting international research aimed at reducing medication-related errors;
- work to develop strategies, guidelines, and tools on best practices regarding safe medication practices;
- formulate educational training materials to improve communication and patient advocacy strategies;
- ensure that patients and their families are included in the development of tools for their health needs; and
- closely study the impact of their initiative to reduce medication-related errors (Vaida, 2015). The initiative will be modified if some areas of focus are more effective than others.
- WHO’s Global Patient Safety (GPS) Network and Global Knowledge Sharing Platform for Patient Safety (GKPS) connect stakeholders and actors from national and international patient safety agencies to institute several reforms.
- One of these reforms involves collecting evidence from a variety of cultural standpoints to inform policies and practices.
- The shared, international web environment of the GKPS allows for a more unified approach to data collection to inform best practices with proper internal and external validity. The minimum information model for patient safety is an example of an established electronic tool for the collection and comparative analysis of patient safety incidence reporting for several institutions and countries. The incorporation of this learning system may improve the reporting of medical errors and inform where efforts most need to be allocated to improve patient safety. There is even a user guide that institutions can utilize for guidance in setting up their minimum information tool (WHO, n.d.).
- Sharing knowledge via this online system strengthens technical capacity and international commitment to leadership to improve patient safety.
- The Multi-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Guide is an important step toward unified education on patient safety.
- The Multi-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Guide applies to universities and institutions in the fields of dentistry, medicine, midwifery, nursing, and pharmacy, among others (WHO, 2011). Its incorporation into curricula outlined by individual institutions has been widely accepted as a key strategy to improving patient safety.
- Institutions can utilize this guide in creating an online course system for undergraduate or continuing education purposes to meet the goal of improving patient safety. It is helpful to utilize an online course system for several reasons. First, the flexible timetable of an online course allows for students and professionals to fit in the training when it is most convenient in their schedules. Second, an online course system can deliver material on most mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and laptops) so that trainings can be taken anywhere on the student or health care professional’s own time. Overall, incorporating an online course system for this type of training saves organizations time and resources, and improves the quality of care provided. As most of the medical world moves toward online education platforms, it is no wonder the WHO is currently working on an e-learning academy based on the Multi-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Guide.
- This guide can be enforced by the Educational Councils Network. This network with representatives around the world will ensure that these guidelines are properly implemented into patient safety curricula internationally.
- The WHO Technical Series on Safer Primary Care focuses on the improvement of patient care in a primary care setting.
- This technical series educates health professionals in the primary care setting on the magnitude of the problem of patient safety as it is most pertinent to primary care facilities and offers key solutions and steps to take to improve patient care.
- The WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist offers simple evidence-based recommendations for health care workers to reduce risk of neonatal and maternal deaths within 28 days of childbirth (WHO, 2015).
- The 19-item WHO Surgical Safety Checklist aims to decrease the potential for medical errors related to surgical procedures by increasing teamwork and communication during surgeries.
- The implementation of this checklist came about from the second global patient safety challenge, which focused on reducing medical errors related to surgical procedures.
- The widespread implementation of this checklist has led to a significant decrease in morbidity (approximately by 36%).
- WHO’s Patients for Patient Safety (PFPS) works to improve the safety of patients by building patient knowledge so that they can be partners in their own care decisions.
- This network serves as psychological support for individuals who have personally suffered due to unsafe health care to share their tragedies and advocate for greater engagement in direct care and in organizational health policies.
- This network also serves as a place for health care professionals, community leaders, policy makers, and other PFPS supporters to share their expertise about the national health system and to brainstorm means of improving patient engagement and safety.
(World Health Organization, 2017)
In order to work to improve patient safety, it is imperative that you as an individual or your organization join the millions of people across the world dedicated to improving patient safety. This may come in the form of joining the PFPS to help advocate for patient engagement in care decisions, adopting trainings to improve patient safety provided by WHO, adding to the reports of medical errors in a collaborative web environment, and/or conducting research on interventions to improve patient safety.
World Health Organization. (2011, November). Guide to reproduction, adaptation, and
translation of WHO copyright materials: The multi-professional patient safety curriculum guide. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/patientsafety/education/curriculum/PSP_Curriculum_Adaptation-Guide_Nov-2011.pdf?ua=1
World Health Organization. (n.d.). How to implement the WHO safe childbirth checklist in a
health care facility. Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2015). Minimal information model user guide. Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2017, May). Patient safety: Making health care safer. Retrieved
Vaida, A. J. (2015). The institute for safe medication practices and poison control centers:
Collaborating to prevent medication errors and unintentional poisonings. Journal of
Medical Toxicology, 11, 262-264. doi: 10.1007/s13181-015-0475-y