Practising Patient Safety

Mistakes do have consequences, some more so than others. The consequence of making a mistake in business could mean that you fail to make a profit and the business ends up going into liquidation. A big deal to be sure but not life threatening.

Mistakes in the medical profession have far greater implications because people’s lives are in the equation. Errors in the medical field affects one in every ten patients and fifty percent of these errors are considered preventable.

Yes, doctors are human like the rest of us and mistakes do happen, but the fact that fifty percent of these errors are considered preventable is a cause for concern.

Patient safety and healthcare accreditation is a fairly new practice. The first patient safety resolution was passed by the world health assembly in May 2002. The resolution highlighted the responsibilities of the WHO in providing guidance to countries on developing reporting systems, creating awareness and research on patient safety.

In recent years a number of accreditation associations have appeared in the hopes of continued improvement in quality of healthcare in public and private hospitals.

The goals of accreditation agencies are as follows:

1. To ensure that an acceptable level of quality is maintained across the board in terms of medical equipment, facilities and service delivery.

2. To minimize human error and the occurrence of accidents by ensuring that healthcare providers follow certain precautions.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the patient safety issues consider this: In 1999, in the United States alone, a brief by Dr. Lucian Leape confirmed that over one million people were injured by errors in treatment every year. Out of those one million, 120 000 were fatal. That’s a pretty big number when you think about it.  In fact, less people were dying in car accidents than from complications arising due to medical error.

Initially these numbers were alarming but they are improving and will continue to do so thanks to the accreditation organizations who continue to monitor and improve systems and processes at hospitals and clinics around the world.

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