"Nine Patient Safety Solutions" launched by World Health Organization

Nurse Leader Insider, May 14, 2007

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In an effort to curb medical errors and prevent healthcare mistakes, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new global program called "Nine Patient Safety Solutions."

According to the WHO, medical errors affect one in 10 patients worldwide, and at any given time more than 1.4 million people suffer from hospital-acquired infections. Experts believe that simple steps can reduce the number of mistakes made by medical professionals worldwide.

The nine solutions are based on patient-safety strategies and best practices that were identified by WHO's World Alliance for Patient Safety and Collaborating Center. They were drafted with feedback from more than 50 experts in patient safety from more than 100 countries.

The strategies come under nine general headings and are being made available to WHO member states. The intention is that the strategies will be used to re-examine patient care processes to improve safety.

Dr. Liam Donaldson, chair of the alliance and chief medical officer for England, headed the agency's campaign, and unveiled the nine solutions. The headings are:

  1. Look-alike, sound-alike medication names--Confusing drug names are a worldwide concern and one of the most common sources of medication errors.
  2. Patient identification--Incorrectly identifying patients leads to medical, transfusion, and testing errors.
  3. Communication during patient handovers--Gaps in hand-off communication between units and teams can lead to inappropriate treatment and possible harm to the patient.
  4. Performance of correct procedure at correct body site--This preventable mistake is the result of miscommunication and incorrect or unavailable communication.
  5. Control of concentrated electrolyte solutions--Concentrated electrolyte solutions used in injections are dangerous if administered improperly or not handled correctly.
  6. Assuring medication accuracy at transitions in care--Medication errors most commonly occur at patient transition points, and medication reconciliation is designed to prevent these errors.
  7. Avoiding catheter and tubing misconnection(s)--Patient harm can be caused through the misconnection of syringes, tubing, and catheters.
  8. Single use of injection devices--The reuse of injection needles, which contributes to the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other viruses, is one of the biggest health concerns worldwide.
  9. Improved hand hygiene to prevent healthcare-associated infections--Effective hand hygiene is a preventive measure to avoid hospital-acquired infections.

The solutions were based on actions and interventions that have been working in some countries to improve overall patient safety while reducing the number of medical mistakes made.

Source: World Health Organization, Joint Commission International Center for Patient Safety, AHN (, and Yahoo! News

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