Patient safety

WHO Patient Safety - programme areas

action area 1

The Global Patient Safety Challenges aim to identify a topic that covers a major and significant aspect of risk to patients receiving health care and which is relevant to every WHO Member State. At present we have three such Challenges:

1. Clean Care is Safer Care

Health care-associated infection was chosen as the first Global Patient Safety Challenge, focusing on the Clean Care is Safer Care theme. As part of this Challenge, we have developed WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care and a set of complementary implementation tools.

2. Safe Surgery Saves Lives

Safer surgery was chosen as the second Global Patient Safety Challenge, with the theme Safe Surgery Saves Lives. The focus of the campaign is the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist. The checklist identifies three phases of an operation, each corresponding to a specific period in the normal flow of work: Before the induction of anaesthesia (“sign in”), before the incision of the skin (“time out”) and before the patient leaves the operating room (“sign out”). In each phase, a checklist coordinator must confirm that the surgery team has completed the listed tasks before it proceeds with the operation.

action area 2

Patients for Patient Safety

In the area of patient and consumer involvement, Patients for Patient Safety is building a patient-led, global network of patients and patient organizations to champion patient safety.

action area 3

Research for Patient Safety

Research for Patient Safety undertakes global prevalence studies of adverse effects and is developing a rapid assessment tool for use in developing countries. WHO Patient Safety is undertaking a major research project to understand the nature of patient harm in ten developing countries and those with economies in transition, and to develop measurement tools for use by WHO Member States. The first round of the Small Grants for Patient Safety Research was launched in June 2008 aiming to build capacity in this area.

action area 4

International Patient Safety Classification

The International Patient Safety Classification aims to define, harmonize and group patient safety concepts into an internationally agreed classification. This will help elicit, capture and analyse factors relevant to patient safety in a manner conducive to learning and system improvement.

action area 5

Reporting and Learning

Reporting and Learning aims to generate best practice guidelines for existing and new reporting systems, and facilitate early learning from information available. WHO has drafted Guidelines on Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems, which are the subject of a consultation exercise during 2007-8.

action area 6

Solutions for Patient Safety

Solutions for Patient Safety are interventions and actions that prevent patient safety problems recurring and thus reduce risk to patients. WHO Patient Safety and the WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety (Solutions) is promoting existing interventions and coordinating activity internationally to ensure that new solutions are delivered.

action area 7

High 5s

The High 5s initiative will spread best practice for change in organizational, team and clinical practices to improve patient safety.

action area 8

Technology for Patient Safety

Technology for Patient Safety focuses on the opportunities to harness new technologies to improve patient safety.

action area 9

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management will work with Member States and partners to gather and share knowledge on patient safety developments globally.

action area 10

Eliminating central line-associated bloodstream infections

WHO Patient Safety will ensure that the results of the work in the State of Michigan, USA, to eliminate central line-associated bloodstream infections is replicated in other settings, this could change the lives of tens of thousands of patients worldwide, especially on intensive care patients.

action area 11

Education for Safer Care

Education for Safer Care will develop a curricular guide for medical students as well as other resources.

action area 12

Safety Prize

The Safety Prize will be an international award for excellence in the field of patient safety that will act as a driver for change and improvement.

action area 13

Medical Checklists

After the success of the Surgical Safety Checklist developed by Patient Safety last year, which was shown to decrease morbidity and mortality by over one-third, WHO Patient Safety is working on additional checklists in order to determine if this approach is effective in other areas of medicine as well.

As part of WHO's response to the H1N1 pandemic, WHO Patient Safety earlier this year has developed a checklist for health care workers treating patients with pandemic influenza A (H1N1). The programme is currently developing a Safe Childbirth Checklist in collaboration with three WHO Departments (Making Pregnancy Safer, Reproductive Health Research and Child and Adolescent Health). WHO Patient Safety is also developing a Trauma Care Checklist in collaboration with the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability.