Patient safety, a global concern

Patient safety is a serious global public health problem. The risk of dying on an airplane trip is estimated to be one in three million, while the risk of dying due to medical error is one in 300. As the World Health Organization warns, one in ten patients living in high-income countries is harmed while receiving hospital care. Such harm can be due to adverse events and 50% of it can be prevented.

The statistics are worse for low- and middle-income countries. Here, every year, five people die every minute from improper medical care, bringing the staggering number of deaths to 2.6 million. Of those deaths, one million are caused by unsafe surgical procedures during or immediately after surgery, according to a WHO report.

But patient safety is important at all levels of health care, including primary and outpatient care, as this is where a high number of patient injuries are concentrated (4 out of 10), many of which end in hospitalization. In fact, it is estimated that 6% of the days of hospitalization are due to damages derived from medical errors, the most common being those related to the diagnosis of the pathology and the prescription and use of medicines.

With regard to diagnosis, the term 'diagnostic error' has been coined in the USA to define the inability to identify the nature of a disease accurately and adequately. Thus, 5% of adults receiving outpatient care in the United States are diagnosed late or incorrectly and a large proportion of them refer treatment to hospitals.

The problem of prescribing and using medicines is no small one and, apart from causing physical harm to patients, it entails countless economic losses to the health system. The lack of safety in the prescription, storage, preparation, dispensing, administration and control of medicines causes damage to 1.3 million patients in the USA alone. Worldwide, the cost of medication errors is estimated at 42 billion euros.

These alarming data show that the health system requires control mechanisms that are capable of preventing these errors, as well as advocating for safer and more effective practices that minimize risks and increase patient safety. Precisely, the FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTH SAFETY has been created to promote innovation and safety in medical-pharmaceutical management and to generate awareness in society of the importance of safety and innovation in the health sector.

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