NPO took part in a Patient Safety conference in Brussels

The conference devoted to the patient safety took place with the involvement of the National Patients’ Organization in Brussels. The patients have the fundamental right their medical care to be safe and yet improving, many challenges are still ahead of us.
Momchil Baev on behalf of NPO took part as a rapporteur in the working group on “Patient and family involvement in aftermath of incidents” within the conference, organized by the European Patients’ Forum (EPF). Among the main conclusions of the group was the great importance of behavior and attitude of the health practitioner and the healthcare facility towards the family of the victim in the hospital. Medical errors, adverse events or maltreatment were only part of the topics discussed in the conference.

In his opening speech Robert Johnstone, member of the Board of EPF presented some data about adverse events in healthcare – such occur in 8-12% of all hospitalizations in Europe. In 2006 survey by Eurobarometer shows that 23% of the respondents were directly affected by medical errors, 18% had experienced a serious error in a hospital, and 11% had been prescribed the wrong medication.

The conference raised the question could patient and family empowerment help improve these figures? To ensure care services are designed around patients’ needs, patient involvement is necessary at all levels in the system. However, in the area of safety, there are specific challenges that need to be addressed.
The involvement of patients in the safety dialogue imposes some ethical issues – whether this is taken responsibility or a patient burdened with responsibility. Certain challenges exist before the empowerment of patients in acute care facilities as well as for the healthcare professionals - is a fundamental culture change needed? The communication between doctors and patients as well as between health practitioners themselves could be both a risk factor and an opportunity for improving safety.
The results of the conference and all discussions involved will give the grounds for the development of a set of “core competencies” for patients and families to involve them in the area of patient safety.