According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care and reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with health care to an acceptable minimum.
An acceptable minimum refers to the collective notions of given current knowledge, resources available and the context in which care was delivered weighed against the risk of non-treatment or other treatment. Patient safety is an important aspect of healthcare in the developing world. Patient safety is fundamental to delivering quality essential health services. Indeed, there is a clear consensus that quality health services across the world should be effective, safe and people-centred. In addition, to realize the benefits of quality health care, health services must be timely, equitable, integrated and efficient.
According to figures available on the WHO website, every 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.
Non-Aligned Movement has recognised the importance of patient safety for the efficient functioning of the healthcare system. NAM expressed appreciation of the Fourth Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety, held on 2 March 2019, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and took also note with appreciation of its outcome, the Jeddah Declaration on Patient Safety 2019, and its recommendations.
The Jeddah Declaration calls for action to invest, promote and utilize solutions to improve patient outcomes, safety culture and care delivery systems in order to shape safer systems for future generations.
In India, patient safety has been recognised as one of the key important components of quality of care and many initiatives have been taking place at central and state levels to address the diverse issues of patient safety. An important initiative is the National Patient Safety Implementation Framework (2018-2025). In 2015 during the 68th WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia, all Member States of the Region, including India, endorsed the “Regional Strategy for Patient Safety in the WHO South-East Asia Region (2016- 2025)” aiming to support the development of national quality of care and patient safety strategies, policies and plans and committed to translate six objectives of the Regional Strategy into actionable strategies at country level.
In this context, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (GoI) constituted a multi-stakeholder Patient Safety Expert Group in August 2016.
The Group was given a task to operationalize patient safety agenda at country level and develop a National Patient Safety Implementation Framework (NPSIF).
The goal of the NPSIF is to improve patient safety at all levels of health care across all modalities of health care provision, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow up within overall context of improving quality of care and progressing towards universal healthcare in coming decade.
NPSIF applies to national and sub-national levels as well as to public and private sectors. Being a cross-cutting concept by nature, the scope of patient safety applies to all national programmes and envisages collaboration of wide range of national international stakeholders both within and outside health sector.
NPSIF has the following six strategic objectives :
1) Improve structural systems to support quality and efficiency of healthcare and place patient safety at the core at national, subnational and healthcare facility levels;
2) To assess the nature and scale of adverse events in health care and establish a system of reporting and learning;
3) To ensure a competent and capable workforce that is aware and sensitive to patient safety;
4) To prevent and control health-care associated infections;
5) To implement global patient safety campaigns and strengthening Patient Safety across all programs; and
6) To strengthen capacity for and improve patient safety research.