LAHORE    -   The first ever Patient Safety Day was observed across the globe with the slogan ‘speak up for patient safety’ on September 17.

The idea behind this initiative is to ensure maximum patient safety by increasing awareness amongst the patients, their families, health workers, policymakers, academicians, researchers, professional networks and the healthcare industry. As per stats available on World Health Organisation’s website; in low and middle-income countries, annually 2.6 million deaths occurs due to unsafe treatment of the patients and 80% of harm can be avoided by implementing and following best patient safety standards. “A human error can cost a life in the health industry,” said Dr. Haroon Hafeez, Director, Quality and Patient Safety Department, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC) while talking to journalists on the occasion of World Patient Safety Day.

While describing the protocols of patient safety, Dr. Haroon said that “the first and most important point of patient care spectrum is correct identification of the patient under treatment. In any hospital, there could be more than one patient admitted at the same time with the same name. Treatment and advised medication could also be different for each patient, so to avoid this error, prior to any medication or procedure, patient must be identified with full naame and specific medical record number. This practice is fully observed at SKMCH&RC. The second important period regarding patient safety is ‘shift change’ time when patients remain the same; attendants have a change of shift. At this time, incomplete ‘Patient Handover’ can increase the chances of error and to avoid any misconduct ‘patient hand over’ must be done properly.”

He further added that “Misunderstanding during verbal or telephonic communication can also be a risk factor for patient. A process of ‘Read-Back’ is advised for all telephonic communication. In this process, receiver of the instructions writes down all information and reads it back to the person at the other end to confirm. Later on both persons jot down their notes in patient medical record to make it part of it. Moreover, ‘Time Out’ procedure is also imperative in patient safety. This procedure is done by the lead surgeon in operating room right before any surgical procedure to confirm correct patient, correct procedure and correct site. All information is called loudly by the surgeon and confirmed by the other team members.”

Elaborating on patient safety protocols at SKMCH&RC, Dr. Haroon said that, “At SKMCH&RC, international standards of patient safety are applied such as hand hygiene which is enforced and regularly crossed checked. Both our Hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar have been accredited with Joint Commission International’s Gold Seal of Approval® for demonstrating continuous compliance with its internationally recognized standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care.”

He informed the journalists, “At SKMCH&RC, even non-medical staff is trained on a regular basis to maintain the standards.  A ‘quality week’ is observer after every three weeks. Along with staff training and awareness, we also focus on patient and family education which is vital in this regards. Safety of a patient is the mutual responsibility of all relevant people either from medical staff or from patient’s family. Awareness about this issue is much needed to help improve the situation in the country.’