Towards Safer Drug Treatment
and Enhanced Patient Empowerment

What Do We Mean by Patient Safety? Notes on a Growing Concept

by Ivica Belina

Everyone has the right to health and healthcare, as well as the right to safe medicinal practices.

We are witnessing how medicine and science are making remarkable advancements every day, leading to constant evolution in the quality and safety of healthcare. However, medication-related harm accounts for 50% of all preventable harm in medical care, underlining the crucial need for research in this field and the necessity of support.

While there were some initial efforts to reduce the burden of unsafe practices and medicinal errors in healthcare from the early 21st century, it wasn't until 2019 that the WHO established World Patient Safety Day and developed the comprehensive concept of patient safety. Patient safety encompasses primary care, home care, community care, and hospital care, addressing risk management in all these different healthcare settings.

This gave rise to the concept of the patient journey, describing the way of thinking about healthcare from the beginning to the end of care for each individual patient. Since each of us is unique, so are our patient journeys. What unites us is the vital role we each play in our own safety as patients, regardless of the environment or stage of our patient journey.

Governments and health administrations are working to incorporate the concept of patient safety into health policies. Additionally, research projects like SafePoyMed actively contribute to the mission of enhancing patient safety and preventing medication errors with machine learning and direct patient engagement.

But how can we as patients integrate patient safety into our daily lives? By taking responsibility, adhering to medical advice, following proper medication protocols, managing our diet, conducting necessary tests on time, and seeking expert advice on the medicines we take. As patients who aim to engage in shared decision-making at every level of healthcare, we must acknowledge the importance of fulfilling our role in our daily routines. This way, we can bring about real systemic change.