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PATIENT-CENTRED STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE PATIENT SAFETY

Author: Tanu Mehta, IV year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from The Northcap University


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in ten patients around the globe is harmed during healthcare services[1]. Patient safety can be considered one of the crucial aspects of any healthcare centre. Patient safety includes preventing patients from any harm and providing them with adequate healthcare services.


Below is the list of strategies recommended to improve patient safety:-

1. Bring up patient-safety enriching culture in the institution

One of the recommended strategiesto nurture patient safety is developing a culture oriented towards patient care and safety. From employees to top management, the focus should lie on patient safety and care. It is pertinent to note that healthcare institutions not adhering to such culture are facing worse adverse effects.


Now, this strategy can be better explained by looking at the following example:

The Doctors must focus on the patients themselves instead of looking into their previous medical records. This would help in ensuring the patient that the institution is more inclined towards the patient and its safety.


2. Working on already-made mistakes

This means that instead of only acknowledging mistakes that are related to patient's safety, the focus should be more on improving those mistakes which could prevent future incidents because of the same mistake. More acceptable would be identifying such issues prior to they occur.

For example in case of issues that already took place, the focus should be on to identify why and how they occurred. After answering these, the focus should now shift to identifying strategies that could prevent happening of the same issue in future.


3. Creating an appointment process which is simple and patient-friendly

Now, this strategy includes creating an appointment process which is quick and simple in nature. One of the keys to ensuring patients' safety is that the appointment process is hazard free for the patients. This means that patients' appointments should be taken quickly and in a speedy way so that patients' health does not get worse just because they were assigned a doctor timely.


4. Encouraging family engagement

This strategy includes encouraging family engagement during the process of treatment of a patient. Now, this strategy is important to ensure patients' safety because it adds another set of eyes looking for inaccuracies in patient care. Also, family members play a crucial role in ensuring that the patient feels comfortable and safe.


5. Ensuring a clean environment and enforcement of hygiene rules

It is pertinent to note that ensuring a clean and hygienic environment for patients is very important to patients' safety. Now, maintaining a clean environment for patients includes two aspects-

a) Heath institutions must ensure that the facilities they provide are clean and hygienic.

b) The employees engaged in providing these facilities adhere to and comply with safety and hygiene measures.


Enhancing Patient Safety by construing ethical aspects to it

So, the patient's safety can be more effectively enhanced if we construe to following ethical aspects to it.

1. Firstly, there should be regular communication between the patient and health institution staff. Lack of communication may reduce the patient’s autonomy and can cause direct harm to his health. On the contrary, regular and good communication can lead to improvement in patient health.

2. Secondly, there should be no conflict between the medical interest of the patient and the economic interest of the stakeholder in a health institution. This means that the medical help to the patient shall not stop just because the reason that economic interests of the stakeholders are not met.

3. Lastly, proper documentation of the patient's identity documents and the action taken by the medical authorities shall be properly documented.


Legal Aspect:- As per the standards recognised by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH)every healthcare institute/ hospital is bound to ensure the safety, proper care, and security of its patients. Along with this, providing a clean and hygienic area for treatment accompanied by clean drinking water is also an obligation on part of the healthcare institutions/hospitals. The hospital is also required to ensure that the treatment provided to its patients is in an infection-free environment.


Every patient has to be attended to with consideration and professionalism without compromising medical principles. Patients or guardians can seek redress in case of any negligence from the hospital’s side.


Legal Framework regarding Patents Safety in India

Talking about the current scenario in India with regard to Patients Safety, it is notable that there exists no policies, regulations or legal framework specifically aiming towards Patient Safety in India.

However, it can be said that there are various legal provisions and rules that indirectly or impliedly focus on patients' safety which are listed below:-

1. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 talks about medical negligence and failure to provide duly service.

2. NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) and DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India provide regulatory mechanisms to prevent overcharging patients.

3. NHSRC (National Health System Resource Centre) is designated to be the nodal agency for ensuring that patients' safety and their needs are duly followed by the healthcare institutions.

4. MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) publishes annual reports analysing the quality of care provided by healthcare institutions to patients.

5. The Right to Information Act, of 2005 public staff are required to report all information as to the quality of care, facilities that are provided etc.


Guidelines issued by the Government of India particularly aim towards patient safety

There exist various guidelines which are issued by the Government of India particularly aiming at patient safety.

1. 24x7 Emergency Services at Public Health Care Institutions are duly available for patients and their safety.

2. Guidelines aiming particularly towards Public Health Care Institutions such as Janani Suraksha Yojana, 2005 (aim at post-pregnancy care to women patients) and Janani Shishi Suraksha Karyakarm ensures patient safety.

3. Indian Academy of Paediatrics issued guidelines in the year 2005 as to the use of safe injections which also ensures patient safety.

4. BWM (Biomedical Waste Management) rules that regulate bio-medical wastes in both private and public healthcare institutions were implemented keeping in mind patient safety.

5. Guidelines issued by the Central Government with regard to vaccinating front-line health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic were implemented keeping in mind COVID-19 patients' safety.

[1]https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/patient-safety

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