The National Institute for Healthcare Research (NIHR) are the nation's largest funder of health and care research and provide the people, facilities and technology that enables research to thrive. Working in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders, patients and the public, they deliver and enable world-class research that transforms people's lives, promotes economic growth and advances science.
About 6% of patients in healthcare settings internationally experience harm that could have been prevented. Around one in eight of these cases result in severe harm, causing permanent disability or death. Drug errors, therapeutic management incidents and incidents involving invasive clinical procedures are the most common causes of preventable patient harm. Higher rates of harm were seen in intensive care and surgical departments than in general hospital settings.
This NIHR funded review pooled data from observational studies carried out around the world. It was not possible to identify completely accurate rates of incidents and harm, due to differences in healthcare systems, and the methods and time frames for reporting and analysing data. However, this well-conducted review provides the best evidence so far about the proportion of overall patient harm that could be prevented.