The World Health Professions Alliance speaks for more than 31 million health professionals worldwide, assembling essential knowledge and experience from the key health professions in more than 130 countries.
Health care interventions are intended to benefit the public, but due to the complex combination of processes, technologies and human interactions there is an inevitable risk that adverse events will happen. Much evidence has been built on risks in hospitals, however information about adverse events occurring in healthcare settings such as physicians’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies and patients’ homes are not very well documented. Identifying and reducing the occurrence of these errors and improving the safety and quality of health care has therefore been brought forward as a priority issue for health services around the world.
An adverse event can be defined as harm or injury caused by the management of a patient’s disease or condition by health care professionals rather than by the underlying disease or condition itself. Although human errors may sometimes precipitate serious failures, there are usually deeper, systemic factors, which if addressed earlier would have prevented the errors. Hence, the enhancement of patient safety involves a wide range of actions in the recruitment, training and retention of health care professionals, performance improvement, environmental safety and risk management, including infection control, safe use of medicines, equipment safety, safe clinical practice and safe environment of care.
There is a growing evidence that inadequate institutional staffing levels are correlated with increase in adverse events such as patient falls, bed sores, medication errors, nosocomial infections and readmission rates that can lead to longer hospital stays and increased hospital mortality rates. In short, inadequate human resources present a serious threat to the safety and quality of health care.
In developing countries the probability of adverse events is much higher than in industrialized nations due in part to the poor state of infrastructure and equipment, unreliable supply and quality of medicines, shortcomings in waste management and infection control, low number and poor performance of personnel because of low motivation or insufficient technical skills, and severe under financing of essential operating costs of health services.
Adverse health care events carry a high financial cost. About half of the expenditures for preventable errors are for direct health care costs.
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Health Care Professionals: backbone of quality and safety of care, Statement of the WHPA At the WHO Executive Board, 16 January 2001
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