World Patient Safety Day, WPSD
World Patient Safety Day (WPSD)

WPSD: Prioritise Patients’ Safety – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the need to recognise crucial roles played by patients, families and caregivers in the healthcare sector and therefore, prioritise their safety.

This was the focus during the 2023 ‘World Patient Safety Day’ and according to WHO, there should be global solidarity and concerted action by all countries and international partners to improve patient safety.

Primarily, the day brings together patients, families, caregivers, communities, health workers, healthcare leaders and policy-makers to show their commitment to patient safety.

According to the WHO, the resolution WHA 72.6 ‘Global action on patient safety’ recognises patient safety as a global health priority and endorses the establishment of WPSD to be observed annually on September 17.

WHO in a statement to commemorate the 2023 WPSD stated, “Patient and family engagement is a pivotal strategy to advance safety in healthcare. As users of the healthcare system with first-hand experience of the entire patient journey, the perspectives of patients, families and caregivers are invaluable in improving patient safety.

“The impact of meaningful patient engagement is remarkable, with studies showing a potential reduction in the burden of harm by up to 15%, saving countless lives and billions of dollars each year.

“Therefore, patient and family engagement has been embedded as a fundamental principle in the World Health Assembly resolution (WHA72.6) on Global action patient safety and in the Global Patient Action Plan 2021-2030.”

The WHO noted that WPSD 2023 is dedicated to the theme, ‘Engaging patients for patient safety’ and the slogan ‘Elevate the voice of patients’.

“The day aims to influence stakeholders including patients, families, policymakers, health care leaders, health workers and patient organisations to work collaboratively towards co-designing health care policies and safety interventions that truly reflect the needs and preferences of patients, ultimately enhancing healthcare safety globally,” WHO added.

The UN agency said safe health care is a fundamental right of all patients, everywhere, every time, yet, patients getting harmed due to unsafe care.

It noted that such occurrence is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, with millions of patients harmed every year.

The WHO stated that patient and family engagement is a key strategy to developing safer health systems and that safe health care depends on the full involvement of patients and families as users of the healthcare system.

The global health body emphasised that that must be a shift from care designed for patients to care designed for patients.

“Patients and families should be involved at every level of health care, from fully informed consent and shared decision-making at the point of care, to policy-making and planning,” the WHO said.

“No one should be harmed in health care. We must elevate the voice of patients, and we must listen and learn. Everybody has a role to play: policy-makers, health care leaders, health and care workers, patients and their families, patient advocates and civil society,” it added.

However, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “If it’s not safe, it’s not care. Patient safety is a collective responsibility. Health systems must work hand-in-hand with patients, families, and communities, so that patients can be informed advocates in their own care, and every person can receive the safe, dignified and compassionate care they deserve.”

According to him, patient safety is an ethical and moral imperative grounded in the healthcare principle, first, to do no harm – which lies at the heart of efforts to ensure high-quality healthcare systems and achieve universal health coverage.

WHO estimated that one in every 10 patients experience harm in healthcare facilities and each year, there are over three million deaths reported globally due to unsafe healthcare.

It noted that most patient harm is preventable, noting that the engagement of patients, families and caregivers is one of the most important strategies for reducing harm.

Speaking further, WHO’s Patient Safety Envoy, Sir Liam Donaldson, said, “Our health systems are stronger, our work is empowered, and our care is safer when patients and families are alongside us.

“The journey to eliminate avoidable harm in healthcare has been a long one, and the stories of courage and compassion from patients and families who have suffered harm are pivotal to driving change and learning to be even safer.”