Patient Safety is the avoidance, prevention and amelioration of adverse outcomes/ injuries stemming from the process of health care. December 9, every year, marks the World Alliance for Patient Safety Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched this Alliance day in 2005 to increase the consciousness of unsafe healthcare. The main purpose of Patient Safety Day is to revolutionise high level support and commitment to tackle patient safety issues in all parts of the world. Patient safety is a global public health concern and is a fundamental principle of health care. Hospital is a place which provides treatment to sick people round the clock. However at times, it could turn out to be life threatening as well. Every process of patient care safety involves a certain degree of uncertainty. The discipline of patient safety highlights the importance to prevent harm to patients, caused by the process of healthcare itself. Improving patient safety means reducing harm to the patient. Why we are concerned on this issue? According to WHO, estimates show that in developed countries as many as 1 in 10 patients are harmed while receiving hospital care. The harm can be caused by a range of errors or adverse events. Recent advancement in technology has created an immensely complex healthcare system. This complexity brings many challenges for healthcare staff in order to keep the patient safe.
Though, a lot of people are treated successfully but there are times when things can go wrong. There are many Patient Safety Issues. The major patient safety issues throughout globe are (a) Diagnostic Errors: The studies show that many patients suffer because of diagnostic error such as wrong, missed or unintentional delayed diagnosis. (b) Health Care-Acquired Infections: These are the errors which occur during patient’s hospitalization. (c) Medication Errors: The studies show that patient, on average, is exposed to one medication error each day. The medication error means when a patient gets the wrong medication, or when he or she receives the right medication but in the wrong dosage. Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care systems across the world, and globally the cost associated with medication error is estimated more than USD 42 billion annually. Patients tend to believe that they were receiving correct treatment, very often they in fact could potentially be getting dangerous and harmful medicines that could not only cause more illness or, and disability, but also end in death. This day gives an opportunity to advocate for safe medicines for all by holding all stakeholders accountable on commitments they have made to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in all countries, because without patient safety universal health coverage cannot be achieved. (d) Readmissions: A readmission is when a patient needs to return to the hospital less than 30 days after being discharged. (e) Wrong-Site Surgery: The studies show that there are many cases reported when patients wrong parts of the body were operated. It is sad that sometimes it’s noticed due to negligence of the doctor such problems faces a patient. Wrong-site surgery means an operation done on the wrong part of the body or on the wrong person.(f) Communication: The studies show that due to communication gap between a doctor and patient results in problems for a patient. Proper communication between the hospital workers as well as between the patient and doctor. The question arises how to ensure proper patient Safety?
It is noticed for proper patient safety we should follow these: (i) Ensure proper patient identity. Patient coding/ labelling can be helpful. (ii) Do not use abbreviations while writing prescriptions. Preferably use capital letters so that it is easy for the patient to understand. (iii) Training of healthcare professionals and team building activities can help in reducing such errors. (iv) Proper healthcare infrastructure will help in reducing patient harm during hospitalization. (v) Effective use of signages will avoid unnecessary delays during hospitalization. (vi) Take proper charge when handing over/taking over the patients especially during shifts. (vii) Engaging patient and their families in their own care. Adherence to Standard Operative Procedure (SOP) facilitates patient’s safety. (viii) Doctors should be trained for rational use of medicines and especially avoid over prescription. Research studies show that painkillers on a regular basis increases a person’s risk of obesity. In a bid to make medicines more accessible and to help reduce the misuse of high-risk drugs, particularly antibiotics, the drugs controller general of India (DCGI) has decided to come up with a new category for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. As per reports, if approved by the regulatory body Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the new proposal will allow pharmacists to dispense certain medicines that are anti-allergy, antipyretic (for fever) and anti-emetic (for vomiting and nausea) without a doctor’s prescription. Safe medicines have currently become a global concern in view of the increasing numbers of falsified and substandard medicines as well as medication errors. Most people are unaware of the negative effects of taking too much cough and cold medicines. Usually, these medicines are readily available in drug shops, making them a popular substance available to abuse by teenagers. When used in prescribed dosages, cold and cough medicines are safe and can provide relief from the symptoms of lower and upper respiratory track congestion and discomfort that is caused by common cold and flu. However, there have been reports of extreme overdoses turning fatal in certain cases. One of the biggest risks from consuming too much cough syrup is overdosing on dextromethorphan or DXM, a common ingredient in nearly all over-the-counter cough medicines.
Unlike codeine and hydrocodone that contain narcotics, it is said that DXM is not physically addictive, but in large doses it is still dangerous. Drinking cough medicines for pleasure has become increasingly popular among youth in several areas of the country. Here are some dangers of OTC abuse that you need to be aware of. DXM overdose can result in-Vomiting, Nausea, Impaired vision, Fever, Irregular heart beat, High blood pressure, Stomach upset and even death, if taken with alcohol or other drugs. What can we do for our own safety? It is important that we keep following things in mind for our safety: (a) Assist the hospital staff by ensuring that your personal data is accurate, including the allergies that you might be suffering from. (b) Ask questions if you have any doubt or if you are not sure of any detail about the diagnosis. If in doubt, seek a second opinion on a medical condition. (c) Ask the doctor about the pros and cons of any medical procedure that is prescribed for you. Be clear about the side effects it might have. Universal Precautions: (i) Hand Hygiene: Wash/ sanitize your hands frequently while providing any kind of care to the patients. (ii) Gloves: Wear gloves while coming in contact with the patient. (iii) Facial Protection: Wear a surgical, eye wear or face shield while treating the patient. (iv) Linen: Proper sterilization of linen before every use. (v) Needles: Dispose the contaminated needles after every use. There has definitely been a significant decrease in the infections caused due to reuse of injections and contaminated injections. World Patient Safety Day’s one of the primary goal is to ensure that immaculate services are provided to the patients. Spreading awareness of the harmful consequences of these injections is also very important. The patient should ask for a brand-new injection and needle, every time he goes to the hospital. (vi) Patient care equipment: Clean and disinfect the reusable equipments before using it for another patient. (vii) Dispose of the waste: Ensure proper disposal of biomedical waste (waste produced in the hospital). (viii) Etiquettes: Cover the nose/mouth while coughing / sneezing. Use a tissue/ handkerchief. It is concluded that a basic tenet in medicine is that no harm should be done to the patient seeking treatment.
The patient should leave the clinic or the hospital feeling much better than when he/she came in for the medical care. The World Patient Safety Day is celebrated on the 9th December every year in order to highlight the importance of the safety of patients who seek medical care. A lot of studies and researches have been proven that mostly in developing countries a lot of patients have been harmed while receiving treatment. A lot of patients have wrongly been diagnosed and treated and thus has had adverse effects. Unfortunately, medical errors are becoming more common even in advanced healthcare facilities. The most common patient safety issues in our state include diagnostic errors like missed or delayed diagnosis, healthcare-acquired infections, wrong-site surgery. This can lead to complications or even death of the patient. Lack of proper communication between the hospital workers as well as between the patient and doctor is another common safety issue. World Patient Safety Day aims in increasing Patient’s safety and also the standards of healthcare institutions and hospitals so that the spread of diseases can be overcome and high accurate standards of diagnostics and treatment can be done. It is important on this day we organise programs/seminars/camps in which doctors, students, patients and administrative staffs of the hospital participate and share ideas related to medicines and patient safety issues. Patient Safety Day recognizes people working together to achieve fair and impartial access to quality health care, and ensuring that such services are accessible, affordable, equitable and of good quality for everyone.
(The authors write on public issues exclusively for “Kashmir Horizon”. Views are their own)