WHO Promoting Patient Safety Solutions Worldwide

The World Health Organization asked its member states May 2 to utilize nine patient safety solutions to reduce the toll of health care-related infections and other problems, which affect millions of patients, the agency said. "Recognizing that health care errors affect one in every 10 patients around the world, the WHO's World Alliance for Patient Safety and the Collaborating Centre have packaged nine effective solutions to reduce such errors," said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "Implementing these solutions is a way to improve patient safety."

The solutions can be used to redesign patient care processes and make them safer, according to WHO. Already widely used in the United States, they are under the headings of: Look-alike, sound-alike medication names; patient identification; communication during patient handovers; performance of correct procedure at correct body site; control of concentrated electrolyte solutions; assuring medication accuracy at transitions in care; avoiding catheter and tubing misconnections; single use of injection devices; and improved hand hygiene to prevent health care-associated infections.

In the past year, the center has assembled more than 50 experts in patient safety from around the world to identify and adapt the solutions to different needs. An international field review of the solutions was conducted to gather feedback from leading patient safety entities, accrediting bodies, ministries of health, international health professional organizations, and others, according to WHO. "These solutions offer to WHO member states a major new resource to assist their hospitals in avoiding preventable deaths and injuries," said Dr. Dennis S. O'Leary, president of the Joint Commission. "Countries around the world now face both the opportunity and the challenge to translate these solutions into tangible actions that actually save lives."

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