Patient safety

A global renaissance in patient safety

To bring together leaders and efforts at the global level to reduce the gap between accumulated safety knowledge and improve patient safety at the sharp end, WHO organized the first Global Consultation “Setting Priorities for Global Patient Safety” in collaboration with the Centre for Clinical Risk Management and Patient Safety, Tuscany, Italy, a WHO Collaborating Centre. The high-level event was held on 26-28 September 2016 in Florence, Italy. Around 140 participants from 30 countries attended. Some of the key themes highlighted include education and training, building leadership capacity, medication safety, infection control and prevention, safer primary care, implementation science, patient engagement and the importance of creating a safety culture.

Medication without harm

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of patient safety incidents across the world. Building up to the launch of the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety, in 2017, a side event on “Addressing the global challenge of medication safety to improve patient safety and quality of care” was held at the 69th World Health Assembly on 25 May 2016. The session reviewed some of the existing challenges relating to unsafe medication practices, highlighted key strategies to strengthen country efforts for preventing medication-associated harm and reflected upon considerations for the focus of the upcoming Challenge.

Making paediatric imaging safer

Worldwide, an estimated 350 million diagnostic medical examinations are performed on children. Using radiation in medical imaging can save lives, but inappropriate use may lead to unnecessary and unintended radiation doses. Because children are smaller and have a longer lifespan than adults their risk of developing radiation-induced effects is greater. In response, WHO have released a communication tool entitled “Communicating radiation risks in paediatric imaging”. The tool provides medical practitioners with information, skills and resources they need to communicate clearly and effectively about the benefits and risks of imaging procedures to paediatric patients and their families.

Call for a global movement on patient safety

The Patient Safety Global Action Summit 2016, held on 9-10 March in London, called for a global coordinated and focused movement to improve patient safety. Senior renowned patient safety experts, ministers of health, policy-makers and other international stakeholders discussed the future of patient safety. In her speech, the WHO Director-General outlined five concrete actions to make real progress: political commitment and leadership, enabling policies, a paradigm shift, performance measurement, and global action by governments.

Practice hand hygiene for surgical patients from admission to discharge

Improving hand hygiene practices in all surgical services through the continuum of care, from surgical wards to operating theatres, to outpatient surgical services, is the primary focus of this year’s WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 5 May campaign.
Hand hygiene, as part of an infection prevention and control programme, in all settings involved in surgery, is known to prevent patient infections, reduce an avoidable burden on health systems and save lives.

Safer childbirth

4 December 2015 -- Aiming to improve the quality of care during childbirth, the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist and Implementation Guide have been developed to target the major causes of maternal and newborn complications and deaths.

A success story of reducing risk of surgical site infections

WHO awards AIC Kijabe Hospital, Kenya, for excellence in implementing the Surgical Unit-based Safety Programme (SUSP)

As part of a multi-centre WHO-led project on measuring and reducing the risk of Surgical Site Infection in five African Hospitals, AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kenya has been operating a multimodal infection prevention and quality improvement intervention since August 2014.

About us

Sir Liam Donaldson, WHO Envoy for Patient Safety

Patient safety fact file