“Medication without harm" a global patient safety challenge of the who

The presently existing errors in prescription and administration of medicines is a problem that has turned into a common denominator in the healthcare systems all over the world, including on the most developed countries. The negative consequences of those events have become so evident that the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a global challenge in 2017 for patient safety, the “Medication Without Harm”, with the objective of reducing by a half the most serious and preventable harm related to medication all around the world in a 5 years timeframe.

What is this initiative?

The challenge of the project is to reduce the errors in medication and harm to patients by at least 50%, through better control of the events that require detailed monitoring, such as:

  • Treatments that include medication with a high risk of harm if improperly used;
  • Patients with multiple treatments; and
  • Patients transitioning from different treatments.

The initiatives foreseen in the plan include some direct intervention with the individuals involved (healthcare professionals and patients), and also changes in the activities that compose every stage of a treatment (prescription, dispensation, administration, monitoring and usage), always focused on improving patient safety.

To achieve the expected results, the WHO has set five specific objectives:

  1. ASSESS the scope and nature of avoidable harm and strengthen the monitoring systems to detect and track this harm.
  2. CREATE a framework for action aimed at patients, health professionals and Member States, to facilitate improvements in ordering, prescribing, preparation, dispensing, administration and monitoring practices, which can be adopted and adapted by Member States.
  3. DEVELOP guidance, materials, technologies and tools to support the setting up of safer medication use systems for reducing medication errors.
  4. ENGAGE key stakeholders, partners and industry to raise awareness of the problem and actively pursue efforts to improve medication safety.
  5. EMPOWER patients, families and their carers to become actively involved and engaged in treatment or care decisions, ask questions, spot errors and effectively manage their medications.

This is the third initiative of its kind launched by WHO directed to Patient Safety. In 2005 the first one focused on hand hygiene “Clean Care is Safer Care”, and in 2008 the program “Safe Surgery Saves Lives”.

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