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European Action to Improve Patient Safety

The European Commission has recently published details on how the Commission and EU countries are addressing the challenge of patient safety.

The release includes information on progress made since 2012, and outlines the barriers that need to be overcome to improve patient safety as foreseen in a Council Recommendation of 2009.

The information highlights that 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.

"When our citizens go to a hospital, they expect safe healthcare,” explained Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health. “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".

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.

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