The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released its landmark report, The error is humanin 1999. He reported that up to 98,000 people die each year in hospitals as a result of preventable medical errors.
One of the key findings of the report was that most errors are not the result of the incompetence of healthcare professionals, but rather the result of systems and processes that fail to prevent errors. A comprehensive strategy to reduce preventable medical errors has been introduced, and a target has been set to reduce errors by 50% over five years. However, this could not be achieved. The perceived reason was the lack of a culture that allows individuals to speak up without fear of consequences for a potential security breach.
Every person in the world, at some point in their life, takes medication to prevent or treat disease. During medical treatment, issues related to drug safety play a crucial role. Sometimes drugs cause serious harm if stored, prescribed, dispensed, administered, or monitored incorrectly. This leads to a serious condition that can turn into a threat to life. Risky medication practices and medication errors are one of the leading causes of preventable harm in healthcare worldwide.
It is necessary to understand the science of safety and human factors when administering medications. To err is human, but we all need to understand and embrace that. Once we do, we can collaboratively create a consistent safety culture across the healthcare spectrum.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has greatly intensified the risk of medication errors and drug-associated harms. It is in this context that medication safety has been chosen as the theme for this year’s World Patient Safety Day, with the slogan: Medication without Harm.
A WHO campaign titled Global Patient Safety Challenges reaffirms aims to call on stakeholders to prioritize and take early action in key areas associated with significant patient harm from medication practices dangerous. These include high-risk situations, transition of care, polypharmacy, look-alike medications, and self-medication. The campaign will place particular emphasis on the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for the safety of medicines, given the severe disruption in the provision of health services.
Recent studies indicate that, primarily, low- to middle-income countries record more than 134 million cases of harm to patients after receiving medical care. This results in approximately 2.6 million deaths per year. High-income countries have relatively lower numbers, with one in 10 suffering additional complications after receiving medical treatment. Worldwide, more than one million patients die each year from post-surgical complications.
Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and/or human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions, or staffing shortages affect prescribing, transcription, dispensing, administration, and monitoring practices. , which can then lead to serious damage, i.e. disability and even death.
Many low- and middle-income countries have developed their own national accreditation and standards to regulate and improve the quality of health services. The Punjab Healthcare Commission, as a regulatory body, has been ensuring patient safety in public and private healthcare institutions (HCEs) since 2013, working towards high quality and safe healthcare services. The commission is focused on institutionalizing mechanisms in HCEs that reduce the risk of avoidable harm to patients. Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) have been developed to achieve this for 12 types of HCEs. Within a comprehensive and internationally recognized framework, the standards encompass all aspects of service delivery, including patient safety.
The recent floods in Pakistan have aggravated a bad situation. This is another health challenge after Covid-19. The spread of water-borne diseases among thousands of flood victims demanded more health facilities with the availability of appropriate medicines. Moreover, most births in Pakistan take place at home, and we realize that almost a million homes have been destroyed. In such a situation, pregnant women do not know where they will give birth and in what state of health. This opens a new episode in patient safety procedures, including medication safety, in the broad sense.
In many developing countries, drugs are readily available without a prescription. This leads to many adverse effects, especially bacterial resistance. Insufficient health services and socio-economic factors lead to an increased proportion of self-medication compared to drugs prescribed by doctors. The role of pharmacists is twofold in this regard. On the one hand, they are responsible for ensuring proper storage and error-free delivery of medications. On the other hand, they must be careful to counteract the medication prescribed to a patient.
Self-medication would be safe if a person was sufficiently familiar with the dosage, effectiveness, and side effects. However, limited knowledge can lead to serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, skin problems and bacterial resistance. In less developed countries, such as Pakistan and India, people have very limited knowledge of the risks associated with self-medication. This leads to a high prevalence rate and the emergence of new cases of antibiotic resistance.
Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and/or human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions, or staffing shortages affect prescribing, transcription, dispensing, administration, and monitoring practices. , which can then lead to serious damage, that’s to say disability and even death. Multiple interventions to address the frequency and impact of medication errors have been developed by WHO and other health institutions.
Engaging key stakeholders and partners in efforts to prevent medication errors and reduce medication-related harms to empower patients and families is a positive solution to this problem. The level of improvement in patient safety has a direct impact on the number of lives saved and disabilities averted for general and hospitalized patients. In today’s time when medical science has reached the pinnacle of success, patient safety cannot be left unchecked.
The writer is a freelance playwright and journalist and can be reached at [email protected] and his blog site: soulandland.com