Doctors, activists join hands for patient safety

MUMBAI: A few months ago, a nurse in a well-known hospital in Pune admitted to having administered a wrong injection to a patient. Though nothing major happened to the patient, the nurse, who was known to be meticulous and hard-working all her life, told the doctor about the incident. She said it was during the time of an emergency and the confusion had occurred because of two similar-looking, similar-sounding medicines.

While it may be considered as a case of medical negligence, most will agree that this was a genuine human error—something that can happen to anyone. Unintended medical errors, in fact, are the leading cause of deaths all over the world, say experts. Recognizing that healthcare errors impact one in every 10 patients around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls patient safety an endemic concern.

A group of doctors, activists and legal consultants have therefore come together to form ‘Patient Safety Alliance’, an initiative that will empower patients and create a movement to promote awareness of patient safety and take action to reduce harm in healthcare.

Dr Nikhil Datar, a gynecologist and health activist, who started the initiative, said that both the doctor and patient suffer from the consequences of these medical errors. “Healthcare professionals become the second victim of these errors. The problem is multi-factorial. It is thus, not important to blame someone for the error, but to analyze the system, keeping the patient at the centre.”

For this, the forum will raise awareness of the problem of patient safety, create a resource library, mobilize the power of patients to take necessary action, including thorough judicial activism if necessary and support providers of healthcare, and professionals, in engaging patients to promote safer care.

Dr Anirudh Malpani, founder of Health Education Library for People, said information therapy for patients is vital. The forum will conduct workshops on patient’s rights and why things go wrong in a healthcare set-up.

Times of India (24 April 2012)