WHO clamps down on medical errors

Errors in medical care affect up to 10% of patients worldwide, reports the World Health Organisation, which has issued a list of patient safety solutions to avoid common medical errors.

Errors in medical care affect up to 10% of patients worldwide, reports the World Health Organisation, which has issued a list of patient safety solutions to avoid common medical errors.

The nine key points listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) include double-checking similar-sounding medication names, ensuring patients and procedures are correctly identified, and improving hand hygiene among staff to avoid healthcare-associated infections.

"Healthcare errors affect one in every 10 patients around the world," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. "Implementing these solutions is a way to improve patient safety."

At any one time, some 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from hospital-acquired infections, according to WHO figures.

"Wrong site procedures" on the body, including errors about the side, organ, implant or person to be operated upon, are infrequent but not rare, the agency said, citing miscommunication as the cause behind many of these.

The checklist urges health workers to improve communication and to assure medication accuracy during patient handovers, improve control of concentrated electrolyte solutions, avoid mis-connections in catheters and other tubing, and ensure single use of injection devices.

Liam Donaldson, chair of the WHO's World Alliance for Patient Safety and Chief Medical Officer for Britain, said the checklist could cut "the unacceptably high number of medical injuries around the world."

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