The World Health Organization has produced a factsheet about patient safety, what it is and the burden of harm.
- The occurrence of adverse events due to unsafe care is likely 1 of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.
- In high-income countries, it is estimated that one in every 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care. The harm can be caused by a range of adverse events, with nearly 50% of them being preventable.
- Each year, 134 million adverse events occur in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), due to unsafe care, resulting in 2.6 million deaths.
- Another study has estimated that around two-thirds of all adverse events resulting from unsafe care, and the years lost to disability and death (known as disability adjusted life years, or DALYs) occur in LMICs.
- Globally, as many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient health care. Up to 80% of harm is preventable. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines.
- In OECD countries, 15% of total hospital activity and expenditure is a direct result of adverse events.
- Investments in reducing patient harm can lead to significant financial savings, and more importantly better patient outcomes. An example of prevention is engaging patients, if done well, it can reduce the burden of harm by up to 15%.
WHO: What is patient safety? https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/patient-safety
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