What you need to know:
- But even before the outbreak , healthcare settings stood out as among the areas with the highest rates of disease transmissions and work-related injuries.
- Mainly responsible for safety are the healthcare providers, who give priority to the safety of patients.
The unprecedented disruption of healthcare provision across the world Covid-19 pandemic has brought into the limelight the importance of focusing on patient and healthcare workforce safety and the greater good of reducing preventable harm in healthcare settings like healthcare-acquired infections.
Covid-19 is among diseases that have affected healthcare workers in clinical practice with deadly consequences with the World Health Organisation (WHO) attributing about 10 per cent of their deaths to it.
But even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare settings stood out as among the areas with the highest rates of disease transmissions and work-related injuries.
Covid-19 has compounded these effects and systematically increased the numbers across the continuum of care owing to our wanting infection prevention and control practices. How do we achieve and sustain quality improvement in patient and workforce safety in healthcare?
Mainly responsible for safety are the healthcare providers, who give priority to the safety of patients. Safety and quality of medical practice require a dedicated and committed workforce working amid hazards.
A milestone in becoming a medical doctor or clinician is that of taking the Hippocratic Oath. The premise of the oath is “first, do no harm”, which forms the first tenet of safe practice. A few practitioners ignore this.
A major line in the oath states: “I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.” This is a remainder to not harm patients and to advise them on potentially beneficial treatments.
As long as human beings provide healthcare and practise medicine, mistakes and errors will occur — even in the best-run of hospitals. However, health facilities and workers can reduce them and limit their impact by fostering a culture of safety.
Healthcare management and leaders should create an enabling environment for healthcare workers and patients to speak up about safety concerns.
But when an error inevitably occurs, how should the hospital staff and management react? How can they prevent the error from recurring?
Kenya’s litany of medical errors includes women giving birth on the hospital floor as nurses took tea beside her, a child being injected with a lethal dose of painkillers and surgeons operating on the wrong patient.
As Martin Luther King, Jr said, ‘‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Today is World Patient Safety Day. Speak out!
Peter Muturi, Nairobi