IFGH 2010: Building Safe Healthcare Systems: Fighting the War Against Medical Errors and Improving Patient Safety in Developing Countries

November 30, 2010

Healthcare is not usually safe as it is intended to be. Everyday many people get injured and die in hospitals silently as a result of preventable medical harm. The problem of medical errors remains a global challenge. It is estimated that medical errors affect one in 10 patients worldwide. The incidence of medical errors is however thought to be more serious and challenging in developing countries. This paper presents findings from an extensive literature review study. It identifies priorities and strategies to reducing medical errors and improving patient safety in developing countries.

Medical errors are not only costly, but they can also have disastrous effects on patients, staff, institutions and nations. It is therefore deemed of special attention. Pursuing patient safety strategies entails promoting global health and efficiency of healthcare systems. In many healthcare institutions, particularly in developing countries, the incidences of medical errors are under-reported. This may not only indicate ignorance of the problem, but also deficiencies in the healthcare systems.

Healthcare complexity issues, personal factors and professional issues are some of the main factors that contribute to medical errors. The following are the identified priorities and strategies that can help to reduce medical errors and promote patient safety in hospitals: (a) establishment of patient safety legislations, policies and guidelines (b) development and strengthening of healthcare accreditation systems (c) creating awareness on patient safety issues and stakeholders’ involvement (d) creating patient safety culture (e) developing effective incident reporting systems (f) improving healthcare staffing levels, education and training (g) control on use and sell of medicine (h) promoting research.In order to win the war against medical errors, strong commitment and application of a comprehensive approach are essential. Medical errors will continue to claim many lives silently in developing countries, unless immediate attention and effort is made to prevent the problem.






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