Trends and initiatives in patient safety that are making a significant impact

Dr Mathisekaran Thangarasu, Consultant Urologist, Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology, Chennai highlights that the evolution of clinical decision support systems using various algorithms and vast collection of patient data help physicians with decision making

An overview of how patient safety has evolved over the years

Patient safety has been considered very serious from the time of Hippocrates, the legendary Greek physician, who in his famous Hippocratic oath, mentioned, “First do no harm” (Latin: Primum non nocere). Despite of it, there were limitations in uniform regulatory bodies and protocols. There was a lack of documentation and if done, they were not able to preserve it over long time periods.

But recently we have initiated many audits which focus on quality improvements, and made massive strides in reporting the incidents, medical errors and complications. Infection control, standardisations of medical practices across the globe and recently Artificial Intelligence (AI) have contributed greatly to improving medical practice which in turn have a huge effect on patient safety.

The challenges such as medication errors, infections, and surgical complications, and how interventions have reduced them

Medication reconciliation processes and antibiotic stewardship programs have been developed to combat the dreaded Antibiotic resistance. Ongoing research in healthcare quality and patient safety has led to a better understanding of risk factors and prevention strategies which help us greatly in reducing surgical complications.

Trends and initiatives in patient safety that are making a significant impact

The evolution of clinical decision support systems using various algorithms and vast collection of patient data help physicians with decision making. Quantum leaps in medical imaging, surgical console systems which help young doctors and trainee surgeons in performing a procedure in models multiple times, before repeating it over real patients and wearable devices such as Virtual Reality (VR) has made a huge impact in patient safety.

Healthcare regulations and accreditation programs contribute to ensuring patient safety. Role of related regulatory bodies in this process

Regulation and accreditation are not identical. Regulation involves rules that must be followed, while accreditation is a seal of approval certifying that an organisation or individual has met specific standards. In India health sector is regulated by Ministry of Health and Family welfare at the Union and State level.

Few of the major accreditors are,

JCI- Joint Commission International (JCI) is recognised as a global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.

National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) is a constituent board of Quality Council of India, set up to establish and operate accreditation programme for healthcare organisations.

Regulators do four things:

  • Set standards of competence and conduct that health and care professionals must meet in order to be registered and practise
  • Check the quality of education and training courses to make sure they give students the skills and knowledge to practise safely and competently
  • Maintain a register that everyone can search
  • Investigate complaints about people on their register and decide if they should be allowed to continue to practise or should be struck off the register – either because of problems with their conduct or their competence

Future challenges and opportunities in the field of patient safety

Challenges include data breaches, software errors, and cybersecurity threats while using electronic medical records. Workforce shortages and health disparities. When multiple organisations are collaborating to provide health care, the interoperability algorithms have to be smoothly enabled.

The opportunity in this problematic environment is the advent of AI, enabling patient centred care, standardisation and Global collaboration. Implementing regulatory initiatives without killing the autonomy of an organisation and encouraging young minds to take up research in the field of health care and supporting them by providing a supportive environment.

In conclusion, the field of patient safety faces both challenges and opportunities in the coming years. Addressing these challenges while harnessing the potential of emerging technologies and collaborative efforts can lead to significant advancements in patient safety and the overall quality of healthcare delivery.

artificial intelligencepatient safetytechnologyvirtual reality
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