WHO launches first ever Patient Safety Rights Charter

News Excerpt:

WHO has launched a Patient Safety Rights Charter at the Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety held in Santiago, Chile.

About the Patient Safety Rights Charter:

  • It is the first Charter to outline patients’ rights in the context of safety.
  • It outlines the core rights of all patients in the context of safety of health care and seeks to assist governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the voices of patients are heard and their right to safe health care is protected.  
    • It will support stakeholders in formulating the legislation, policies and guidelines needed to ensure patient safety.
  • Everyone, everywhere, has the right to safety as a patient. 
  • The launch of the Charter is a tangible step forward in achieving a safer, more equitable world.

Patient Safety:

  • Patient safety refers to the processes, procedures and cultures established in health systems that promote safety and minimise the risk of harm to patients.  
  • It speaks about the fundamental principle of health care – ‘Do no harm’. Assuring patient safety should be a global priority, and a critical component needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and deliver the right to health. 
  • It can be seen as an indicator of countries’ broader commitment to respect, protect and fulfil health-related human rights

The 10 fundamental patient safety rights outlined in the Charter are the right to:

  1. Timely, effective and appropriate care;
  2. Safe health care processes and practices;
  3. Qualified and competent health workers;
  4. Safe medical products and their safe and rational use;
  5. Safe and secure health care facilities;
  6. Dignity, respect, non-discrimination, privacy and confidentiality;
  7. Information, education and supported decision-making;
  8. Access medical records;
  9. To be heard and fair resolution;
  10. Patient and family engagement.

Significance of the charter:

  • The Charter will provide healthcare workers, healthcare leaders and governments with the tools to build patient-centred healthcare systems, improving patient safety and reducing the risk of harm. 
  • It will provide patients with language to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings and facilitate continued collaboration between patients, their families and caregivers, communities and health systems to ensure everyone has access to high-quality safe, health care.

The challenge to patient safety:

  • Patient harm in health care is a global challenge. It occurs in countries of all income settings and at all levels of healthcare delivery. 
    • Harm to patients rarely results from a single incident, but due to process failures because of poorly designed health systems. 
  • Patient safety can be compromised due to avoidable errors such as unsafe surgical procedures, medication errors, mis- or late diagnosis, poor injection practices, unsafe blood transfusion and the onset of life-threatening infections such as sepsis and other healthcare-associated infections.
    • 1 in every 10 patients experience harm in healthcare; about 50% of this harm is preventable.

Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety:

  • The Sixth Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety was hosted in Santiago, Chile on 17–18 April 2024. 
  • At the Summit, ministers, healthcare leaders and patient advocates discussed how to bring change and sustain changes in patient safety policies and practices, the challenges and opportunities whilst implementing the Global Patient Safety Action Plan.
  • Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety have significantly contributed to raising awareness and driving the global patient safety movement. 
    • A key achievement was the adoption of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution "Global Action on Patient Safety'' in May 2019, which catalysed the development of the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030
    • The plan establishes a strategic direction and proposes a framework of action for relevant stakeholders to support patient safety worldwide. 

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