What is Patient Safety?
Patient safety is one of the most pressing health care challenges. Unintended medical errors are the leading cause of deaths all over the world.
The frequency and magnitude of avoidable adverse patient events was not well known until the 1990s, when multiple countries reported staggering numbers of patients harmed and killed by medical errors. Recognizing that healthcare errors impact 1 in every 10 patients around the world, the World Health Organization calls patient safety an endemic concern.
Why is this important?
Health care in the 21st century is a two edged sword. On the one hand, with scientific and technological advances, doctors can saves lives and also improve quality of life for people suffering from major diseases. On the other hand, modern medical practice is becoming complex and this introduces risks. In the USA it has been estimated nearly 44,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. More people die in a given year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or AIDS (16,516). Elsewhere in the developed world, one in ten patients receiving hospital care suffers an adverse event often due to infections or medication errors. In India, it is difficult to assess the extent of the problem since there are very few good research studies; however one study looking at injections found that of all the injections administered in India, one third carried a potential risk of transmitting Blood Borne Virus. Unsafe injection due to faulty technique was observed in 53.1%. Together these two factors, at the country level made nearly two third of the injections unsafe.