Patient safety issues in developing countries
12 April 2012
A new study published in the British Medical Journal has outlined for the first time the frequency and nature of harm to patients brought about by healthcare in developing countries. The study, published on 12 March, sponsored by the World Health Organisation, involved researchers at the Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality at Imperial.
The researchers looked at patients from 25 hospitals in Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, South Africa and Yemen. They found that harm to patients caused by their healthcare, rather than their disease, is a major public health problem, as it is in the developed world, but in these countries patients are more likely to die from such harm.
Common adverse events recorded in the study included hospital-acquired infections, patients being given the wrong drugs, adverse drug reactions, surgical complications and delays in diagnosis. Across the countries studied, eight per cent of hospitalisations involved at least one adverse event to the patient. Over 80 per cent of these events were judged preventable and 30 per cent contributed to the death of the patient.
“We know that safety is a concern in all advanced healthcare systems,” said Professor Charles Vincent, Director of the Centre (Surgery and Cancer). “This study tells us that it’s an equal concern in developing countries.
“The vast majority of adverse events are preventable. Better training and supervision of clinical staff and the use of clinical protocols could help to reduce harm caused by healthcare.”
— Sam Wong, Communications and Development