Patient safety: progress made, more needed
European Commission - IP/14/694 19/06/2014
Brussels, 19 June 2014
Patient safety: progress made, more needed
A patient safety package published today by the European Commission highlights how the Commission and EU countries are addressing the challenge of patient safety, progress made since 2012 and barriers to overcome to improve patient safety as foreseen in a Council Recommendation of 2009. While significant progress was made in terms of shaping national programmes for patient safety and putting in place systems for patients to report adverse effects, there is a still a long way to go in terms of implementing provisions on patient empowerment and in particular on education and training of healthcare workers. The documents published today will feed into the reflection process currently underway on future EU-level action on patient safety and quality of care.
Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health, said: "When our citizens go to a hospital, they expect safe healthcare. The good news is that most Member States now have patient safety programmes in place. The bad news is that, despite such progress, there are still adverse events in healthcare settings and patient safety is seldom part of healthcare workers training. We therefore need to pursue efforts to ensure greater safety for our citizens in healthcare settings".
The Package consists of three documents:
1 The Report on the Implementation of the 2009 Council Recommendation on Patient Safety
In 2009 a Council Recommendation on patient safety and healthcare associated infections put forward an overarching strategy at EU level with four areas for action: 1) policies and programmes on patient safety, 2) empowering patients, 3) reporting adverse events, and learning from errors, and 4) education and training of healthcare workers.
Following the 2012 report on the implementation of the Recommendation, which demonstrated progress by Member States and identified areas requiring further efforts, today’s report points to further progress over the last two years, notably in the following areas:
When it comes to the impact of the Recommendation, 21 out of the 28 reporting countries said that it increased awareness at political level, 20 said that it increased awareness in healthcare settings and 16 said that it triggered concrete action.
However, the report concludes that there is a need for continuous efforts at EU level to increase patient safety and quality of care, and proposes a list of actions including developing guidelines on information to patients, on patient safety standard and a common definition of quality of care.
As regards preventing healthcare associated infections, the report concluded that greater efforts are needed in particular to ensure specialised infection control staff in healthcare settings and isolation capacity for infected patients.
2 The Eurobarometer survey on patient safety and quality of care, conducted between November and December 2013 in all 28 EU countries, shows that:
3 The Results of the Public Consultation that ran between December 2013 and February 2014 shows that civil society (over 90%) still see patient safety as an issue in the EU. The results showed overwhelming support for all areas of improvement identified by the Commission. According to the respondents, the most effective measures are involving health professionals, binding national laws, involvement of patient organisations and EU cooperation on patient safety. Moreover, the majority of contributors (72%) consider that enlarging the scope of EU action from patient safety to wider quality of care would bring considerable benefits. Patient safety is seen as result of high quality of care which needs to be safe, effective and respectful of patients’ needs and dignity.
It is estimated that 8-12% of patients admitted to hospital in the EU suffer from adverse events whilst receiving healthcare, such as: healthcare-associated infections (approximately 25% of adverse events), medication-related errors, surgical errors, medical device failures, errors in diagnosis and failure to act on the results of tests. An estimated 4.1 million patients per year in the EU acquire a health-care associated infection, and at least 37 000 die as a result.
All documents, and more information on patient safety in the EU, can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/health/patient_safety/policy/index_en.htm
Commissioner Borg's website:
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