Patient safety

WHO Technical Series on Safer Primary Care

14 December 2016 - WHO launched a Technical Series on Safer Primary Care, presented as a set of nine key learning monographs which summarize the evidence and experience of different strategies for improving patient safety in primary care. A webinar on Safer Primary Care to introduce and launch the technical series was held on 16 December. The technical series addresses selected priority areas which countries can prioritize according to local needs. It is our hope that this technical series will make a valuable and timely contribution to the planning and delivery of safer primary care services in all WHO Member States.

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.

Request for proposals

  • 9 February 2017

    You are hereby invited to submit a proposal for a consultancy to provide technical and administrative support to the WHO Patient Safety and Quality Improvement (PSQ) unit for the effective implementation of the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist and other safety and quality improvement tools, for safer maternal and neonatal care. Please see the bidding instructions and further information below.
    Deadline: 16 February 2017, 18h00 Geneva time (CET).

WHO Patient Safety

Sir Liam Donaldson, WHO Envoy for Patient Safety

Patient safety fact file