When it comes to treating their patients, safety should be a medical professional’s number one concern. Sometimes patient safety can be overlooked and that can lead to very harmful medical mistakes. That is why the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has dedicated a week each year to raise awareness on patient safety. This year, from March 14th to the 20th IHI hosts its annual National Patient Safety Awareness Week.
Patient Safety Awareness Week is an event that is meant to encourage people to learn more about health care safety. Even though real progress has been made over the past two decades, medical harm is still the leading cause of death worldwide. An estimated 134 million adverse cases happen each year with 2.6 million resulting in death according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is due to unsafe care found in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries. 40 percent of patients experience harm in ambulatory and primary care settings and an estimated 80 percent of these harms are preventable.
Patient harm is not just a concern in third world countries, it is happening in the U.S. as well. The U.S. alone has an estimated 400,000 deaths per year with all these deaths being preventable. There are also cases where the patient harm does not result in death, but it has long-term effects on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, and family relationships. For this reason, we should focus not just during this week but every week on how we can be safer when it comes to medical care. As a patient, if something in your doctor’s office seems off, you must talk to your doctor to help prevent any errors. It is always a good idea to ask questions or seek a second opinion from another medical professional.
Patient Safety Awareness Week is dedicated to growing awareness about patient safety and recognizing the work that is already being done. At some point in everyone’s lives, they must have some interaction with the health care system. If everyone can help raise awareness about patient safety, we all can be a little safer.
For more information on Patient Safety Awareness Week, click here.
Article written by William Graves.