17 September 2020: World Patient Safety Day

"Safe health workers, Safe patients" is the slogan for the second annual World Patient Safety Day, which will be observed on 17th September 2020. Established in May 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly, it is promoted throughout Italy by the Ministry of Health, the Health Commission of the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces, the Italian Higher National Health Institute (ISS), the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) and the National Agency for Regional Health Services (AGENAS).

Each year on 17th September, Public Health worldwide observes World Patient Safety Day, an important anniversary (Resolution WHA 72.6 - Seventy Second World Health Assembly) set up in May last year during the 72nd World Health Assembly. On that occasion, all 194 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO), recognising patient safety as a global health priority, approved the establishment of a day dedicated to:

  • raising awareness of the global issue of patient safety;
  • publicising public commitment to health care safety;
  • implementing activities aimed at improving the security of care practices reducing possible and potential harm to patients.

In Italy, as is the case in Public Health internationally, the safety of patients and of the healthcare workers appointed to their care, together with clinical risk management, have become the strategic priorities that the national health service aims to achieve.

Over 134 million adverse events occur every year due to unsafe treatment in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries, contributing to 2.6 million deaths every year. Moreover, according to WHO estimates, 15% of hospital expenses in OECD countries can be attributed to problems with patient safety; of these, as many as four out of 10 patients are harmed while receiving primary or outpatient health care, with up to 80% of the harm considered to have been preventable (link to WHO website - Section: Patient Safety Fact File)

In light of these estimates, the emergence of a marked sensitivity to the problem of risk management throughout the health sector is now clearly seen. In this regard, the profound cultural change that sees safety as a system requirement, the result of the interaction between technical, organisational and processual factors, has provided healthcare with a wealth of knowledge, enabling us to understand the origin of errors, study their cause, share solutions and learn from them in a more effective operational management dictated by high quality standards.

In fact, patient safety currently embodies an approach to medicine that is constantly investing in training, communication, treatment awareness and respect and protection for the patient, thus keeping alive the most demanding and noblest aspects of the caring profession in all its forms.

In 2020, now taken over by the Covid-19 pandemic which has represented and still represents one of the most serious threats to patient safety ever recorded, Public Health is facing one of the greatest challenges for the world and for humanity.

The serious emergency situation, exerting unprecedented health, economic and social pressure, has confirmed the need to strengthen the capacity of the health system in order to respond as effectively as possible to a possible crisis situation, as well as to continue the qualified and motivated actions of our health workers to ensure safe care for patients. In fact, there is a growing demand from service users/patients who require increasingly complex treatments, and this implies continuous training and upskilling by all professionals working in the health sector. Meeting the health needs of citizens, in line with the criteria of safety, equity and appropriateness of access to care, represents the mission of the health systems of civilised societies.

Within this context, and on the occasion of this important event, the World Health Organization has set itself the following objectives:

  • to raise awareness worldwide of the importance of health worker safety and its interconnection with patient safety;
  • to involve more stakeholders and adopt multimodal strategies to improve the safety of health workers and patients;
  • to implement urgent and sustainable actions by all stakeholders who recognise and invest in health worker safety as a priority for patient safety;
  • to recognise the dedication and hard work of health workers, particularly in the current fight against Covid-19.

For the 2020 awareness campaign whose leitmotif is "Safe health workers, Safe patients", many activities and initiatives are being launched throughout the country, in which obviously the Region of Sardinia and in particular the University Hospital of Sassari participates with pride and determination.

On the occasion of this event, in fact, the AOU of Sassari is promoting an information campaign aimed at health workers and the general public by gathering all of the material relating to patient safety which are available on the company website in a special section implemented for the occasion in accordance with the WHO objectives.

Within the AOU, it will be possible to consult the documentation and initiatives carried out on the international, national and local scene, with particular reference to all the training, information and communication activities that the AOU has carried out in recent years in order to guarantee safe treatment for patients and its employees.

These include the Awareness Campaign to combat the misuse of antibiotics has dedicated an entire section entitled "Tackling antimicrobial resistance", World Hand-Hygiene Day, World Immunisation Week, International Nurse’s Day, the Vaccine Communication Campaign for anti-influenza vaccination which won the first PerchéSì prize for the best vaccination communication project in Italy in 2019.

The entire section can be consulted at the link https://www.aousassari.it/index.php?xsl=7&s=70829&.

Along with the material available on the AOU website, in order to provide reliable and scientifically-proven information to citizens in this period of communication disorientation, to explain the fundamental behavioural indications aimed at preventing Sars-Cov-2 infection the S.It.I (Italian Society for Hygeine, Preventive Medicine and Public Health) in collaboration with SANITANOVA and the national VaccinarSì group (link to the website: https://www.vaccinarsi.org/ have worked on a communication project shared on the Vaccinarsinsardegna.org portal. This project involved the implementation of an immediate and concise training/information course held by distinguished professionals in the field of Public Health and aimed at health professionals and citizens. Integrated communication on these issues, in fact, plays asignificant role in all areas of safety promotion both in hospitals and in the community.

In the behavioural guide, aimed at limiting contagion and managing the emergency, a series of short videos are released (updated and increased over time) for each topic, dealing with specific aspects and giving basic advice, instructions, recommendations and warnings. The entire course can be consulted on our website at the link: https://www.vaccinarsinsardegna.org/en/notizie/2020/04/covid-19-nasce-il-corso-formativo-informativo-per-operatori-sanitari-e-cittadini.

Finally, Vaccinarsinsardegna.org, takes this important opportunity to reiterate even more firmly that among the "safe treatments" preventive vaccination is of primary importance. Indeed, vaccination is now the only effective weapon available to science for the prevention of serious, disabling and sometimes even lethal, infectious diseases.

In the health emergency in which we find ourselves at present, with the population anxiously awaiting theavailability of a vaccine against Sars-Cov-2, the above-mentioned preventive vaccination assumes even greater importance, especially considering the fact that, since the symptoms of Covid-19 are very similar to those of influenza, the hypothesis of a concomitance between seasonal influenza and the possible persistence of the pandemic would represent a further criticality to be addressed within an already precarious healthcare context. The symptoms of the onset of the two pathologies, in fact, will cause a further increase in the burden on the healthcare system, with increasing difficulties for doctors and patients to orient themselves in the diagnosis.

In this context, flu vaccination (together with anti-pneumococcal vaccination) therefore takes on significant importance since, by preventing influenza, it excludes the confusing factor dictated by the similar symptomatology to that caused by Covid-19, facilitating the distinction between the two diseases (influenza and Covid-19) and protecting people at risk of developing serious forms of influenza.

In this regard, we inform users that, as anticipated in a previous News article published on our site, in accordance with ministerial recommendations, for the 2020-2021 influenza season, the region of Sardinia will bring forward the influenza vaccination campaign to the beginning of October 2020, offering vaccination to those eligible at any time during the flu season (even if later than the recommended time for vaccination); this choice, shared by all the Italian Health Authorities and dictated by the objective of achieving greater vaccination coverage for those at risk, for those categories for whom influenza vaccination is strongly recommended (the elderly and healthcare workers in particular), and for the entire Italian population.

Finally, we would like to remind the public that all updates and information on flu vaccination can be found on our website, together with international recommendations, national ministerial circulars and initiatives implemented throughout the region, in the "Prevention and control of flu syndrome" section available at https://www.vaccinarsinsardegna.org/en/vaccinations-sardinia/prevention-and-control-of-flu-syndrome

Attached to this article is a photo gallery collection of interesting and relevant posters, infographics and images celebrating World Patient Day.

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