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WHO Launches "Nine Patient Safety Solutions" to Save Lives and Avoid Harm

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007 (PAHO)—The World Health Organization (WHO) today launched "Nine patient safety solutions" to help reduce the toll of health care-related harm affecting millions of patients worldwide.

"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 most important knowledge in the field of patient safety is how to prevent harm from happening to patients during treatment and care, experts noted in a press conference at the National Press Club. The nine solutions are based on interventions and actions that have reduced problems related to patient safety in some countries.


Sir Liam Donaldson

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chair of the Alliance and Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "Patient safety is now recognized as a priority by health systems around the world. The Patient Safety Solutions programme of work is addressing several vital areas of risk to patients. Clear and succinct actions contained in the nine solutions have proved to be useful in reducing the unacceptably high numbers of medical injuries around the world."

The nine solutions are now being made available in an accessible form for use and adaptation by WHO Member States to re-design patient care processes and make them safer. They come under the headings of: Look-Alike, Sound-Alike medication names; patient identification; communication during patient hand-overs; 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 infection.

The Patient Safety Solutions, a core programme of the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety, brings attention to patient safety and best practices that can reduce risks to patients. It ensures that interventions and actions that have solved patient safety problems in one part of the world are made widely available in a form that is accessible and understandable to all. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and Joint Commission International were officially designated as a WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety (Solutions) in 2005.


Dr. Dennis S. O'Leary

In the past 12 months, the WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety (Solutions) has brought together more than 50 recognized leaders and experts in patient safety from around the world to identify and adapt the nine 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 other experts.

"These solutions offer to WHO Member States a major new resource to assist their hospitals in avoiding preventable deaths and injuries," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., 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."


Dr. Cristina V. Beato

"It’s an extremely important measure to start delivering quality care," said Cristina V. Beato, M.D., Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization. "We took an oath to do no harm and it’s clear that patient safety is a critical part of that. Hand washing control, for example, is an important measure even in the U.S. where we have MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics) and it is critical in preventing infections."

Dr. Beato said pilot programs in several countries in the Americas show that "a common sense approach to hand hygiene in health care settings helps reduce adverse events that affect patient care."


Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan, of Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, said a series of medical errors left her firstborn child brain damaged and claimed the life of her husband. "Patients know about errors firsthand," she said. "Health care systems have to be responsive to them and provide ways for them to report errors, which can facilitate learning." She said it was critical to incorporate consumers' experiences into patient safety efforts, noting, "Patients want learning to take place so this never happens to another family, and we applaud this initiative."

Patient Safety Solutions focus on the following challenges:

  1. Look-Alike, Sound-Alike Medication Names
  2. Patient Identification
  3. Communication During Patient Hand-Overs
  4. Performance of Correct Procedure at Correct Body Site
  5. Control of Concentrated Electrolyte Solutions
  6. Assuring Medication Accuracy at Transitions in Care
  7. Avoiding Catheter and Tubing Mis-Connection
  8. Single Use of Injection Devices
  9. Improved Hand Hygiene to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections

For more information or to view the complete Patient Safety Solutions, please go to: www.jointcommissioninternational.org/solutions.

For more information please contact: In Washington, , Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Tel. (202) 974-3459, or , The Joint Commission, Tel: +1 630.792.5175, and in Geneva, , WHO, World Alliance for Patient Safety, Tel +4122 791 2567.