Commission Takes Steps to Promote Patient Safety in Europe

European CommissionThe Commission has recently adopted a Communication and proposal for a Council Recommendation with specific actions that Member States can take, either individually, collectively or with the Commission, to improve the safety of patients. Each year, in the EU, between 8% and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals suffer harm from the healthcare they receive, including from healthcare associated infections. Much of that harm is preventable.

The most common types of adverse events in healthcare are: healthcare associated infections; incorrect or delayed diagnoses; surgical errors; and medication related errors. Most efforts to improve patient safety at Member State and EU levels have so far focussed on specific causes, for example, minimising the risk from medicinal products, medical devices or antimicrobial resistance.

The Commission Communication recommends a comprehensive approach to improving patient safety. Member States are encouraged to put in place and improve strategies to prevent and control adverse events in all healthcare settings. The primary focus is on addressing systemic and organisational failures responsible for most harm to patients. Key recommendations for Member States include, for example: establishing or strengthening reporting and learning systems; embedding patient safety in the education and training of healthcare workers; involving patients in the development of safety measures; and providing patients with relevant information on health risks and safety issues. Member States are also encouraged to share best practice and expertise in this field.

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