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The cost of patient safety inaction: Why doing more of the same is unsustainable


On January 2020, Patient Safety will be on the G20 agenda (among other five health key priorities), but Abdulelah M. Alhawsawi, Saudi Patient Safety Center, asks "what is patient safety doing on an economic forum like the G20?"

Patient harm is estimated to be the 14th leading cause of the global disease burden. This is comparable to medical conditions such as tuberculosis and malaria. In both US and Canada, patient safety adverse events represent the 3rd leading cause of death, preceded only by cancer and heart disease. In the US alone, 440,000 patients die annually from healthcare associated infections. In Canada, there are more than 28,000 deaths a year due to patient safety adverse events. In low-middle income countries,  134 million adverse events take place every year, resulting in 2.6 million deaths annually. 

In addition to lives lost and harm inflicted, unsafe medical practice results in money loss. Nearly, 15 % of the health expenditure across Organization of Economic Cooperative Development countries is attributed to patient safety failures each year, but if we add the indirect and opportunity cost (economic and social), the cost of harm could amount to trillions of dollars globally.

When a patient is harmed, the country loses twice. The individual will be lost as a revenue generating source for society and the individual will become a burden on the healthcare system because he or she will require more treatment. Unless we do something different about patient safety, we would risk the sustainability of healthcare systems and the overall economies. 

Alhawsaw proposed establishing a G20 Patient Safety Network (Group) that will combine Safety experts from healthcare and other leading industries (like aviation, nuclear, oil and gas, other), and economy and fFinancial experts

This will function as a platform to prioritise and come up with innovative patient safety solutions to solve global challenges while highlighting the return on investment (ROI) aspects. 

This multidisciplinary group of experts can work with each state that adopts the addressed global challenge to ensure correct implementation of proposed solution.

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Source: The G20 Health & Development Partnersip, 10 February 2020

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There are a number of amazing Patient Safety projects being rolled out in many NHS trusts in England.  There is a need for traction across the NHS and I am certain that with leadership this will gain traction and make massive inroads to improving patient safety and outcomes, as well as enhancing the patient experience.

I work in an organisation which is part of the NHS family and which is passionate about working with the NHS to improve patient care and deliver patient safety initiatives that are vital to the transformation of the NHS for the future.  After all, the NHS is a global phenomenon in healthcare and we MUST work to ensure its future. 

Scan4Safety is the vehicle that can and will help deliver the digital transformation agenda as has been set out for the NHS by central office.

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