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Patients call for a greater role in medication safety
by IAPO at 4:44PM Friday 24 May 2013 (News)


Geneva, Switzerland, 24 May 2013 – This call was made at a Side Meeting to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting entitled: Patient Engagement in Medication Safety, was hosted by the Government of Australia, the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO) and was held in collaboration with the WHO Patient Safety Programme (PSP).

Unsafe medication is a major issue in both developed and developing countries, causing millions of patient injuries and costing billions of dollars to healthcare systems. Estimates from developed nations suggest that between 7.5% and 10.4% of patients in acute care settings and 13% in ambulatory settings experience adverse drug events. During the meeting Ed Kelley, WHO Patient Safety, announced that the 3rd WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge will be on medication safety and will need to feature patient engagement prominently.

Engaging patients in medication safety is essential to improve health outcomes and prevent patients from being harmed. The meeting raised awareness of the importance of patient engagement in improving medication safety; shared country experiences; and served as a call to action to promote patient and family engagement in the area of medication safety. Given that between 28-56% of adverse drug events are preventable, there is room for improvement.

As Chair of the meeting, Sir Liam Donaldson, WHO Envoy for Patient Safety provided an overview of the situation: ’…the number of patients who die from medical error is unacceptable. Patient stories should be told, should be heard and the lessons learnt implemented, so that with confidence we can say, never again.’

‘We have the ability to reduce the harm caused by medication safety incidents and improve the quality of life and health of patients and consumers worldwide but to make it happen, we need to listen.’ IAPO Governing Board Member, Carol Bennett highlighted as she shared examples of how IAPO members have been supporting patient engagement in patient safety initiatives worldwide.

Speakers from Australia, Canada and Germany discussed the many ways in which patients can become more involved in making healthcare safer, such as through health literacy initiatives, co-design of policies and procedures and sitting on policy-making boards. Professor Chris Baggoley, Chief Medical Officer for Australia, highlighted the importance of embedding patient engagement in healthcare systems and national health policy. The session concluded that to achieve improved medication safety strong partnerships with patients need to be developed based on the values of respect and equity.


All statistics taken from: WHO Patient Safety Programme (2008). summary of the evidence for patient safety: implications for research

View the press release as a PDF

Note to Editors:
About IAPO: IAPO is the only global alliance representing patients of all nationalities across all disease areas and promoting patient-centred healthcare worldwide. Our members are patients’ organizations working at the local, national, regional and international levels to represent and support patients, their families and carers. IAPO has over 200 members which span over 50 countries and 50 disease areas and through its membership represents an estimated 365 million patients worldwide.

About WHO Patient Safety: 2004, WHO established “The World Alliance for Patient Safety” (renamed WHO Patient Safety in 2009) to coordinate and accelerate global efforts to improve patient safety. The WHO Patient Safety Programme works on a global scale and has resulted in significant changes in the world's health systems as Member States and experts have been mobilized to improve safety internationally. Patient and community engagement has been a core priority of the WHO Patient Safety Programme since its inception. Patients for Patient Safety (PFPS) is a WHO Patient Safety Programme that aims to incorporate the patient voice in all levels of health care. The programme supports a global network that brings together patients, families, advocates, health-care professionals and policy-makers, to work in partnership to improve health-care safety.

For further information, please contact:
Mr Jeremiah Mwangi, Policy & External Affairs Director, IAPO
T: +44 20 7250 8082; Email: jeremiah@patientsorganizations.org
Website: www.patientsorganizations.org

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