Patient safety is in your hands

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

IAPO Policy Manager Alison Lightbourne explores the importance of hand hygiene and whether it is still a pressing issue around the world today.
 

We speak a lot these days about universal health systems, patient engagement and patient-centred healthcare, but we must remember the fundamentals of safe delivery of services. Without clean and safe services, whole systems are put at risk. Professor Charles Vincent from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford has said, ‘Once you think you’ve done safety and you’re sorted, you’re in trouble’, and safety weaknesses have surfaced around the world as people start to concentrate on issues they see as ‘newer, bigger, tougher’.

‘Once you think you’ve done safety and you’re sorted, you’re in trouble’ - Professor Charles Vincent

To highlight the ongoing need to keep focusing on preventing infection, and to celebrate the enormous amount of work that has been achieved over the last 10 years since the launch of the Clean Care is Safer Care programme, WHO is promoting a day of action on 5 May 2015 around the theme of, ‘hand hygiene is your entrance door’
 

Hand hygiene has saved millions of lives

Safe and effective health services in local communities rely on patients, families, communities and healthcare professionals working together in partnership. This is an opportunity to highlight that hand hygiene in healthcare has saved millions of lives in the last few years. Too many people aren’t taking hand hygiene seriously. A lack of hand hygiene indicates a quality problem in healthcare and highlights that there are likely to be weaknesses in the health system.

We all need to support the improvement and continuation of hand hygiene practices by healthcare workers at the right times and in the right way. This will help reduce the spread of potentially life-threatening infections in healthcare facilities in all countries.

Safe and effective health services in local communities rely on patients, families, communities and healthcare professionals working together in partnership. This is an opportunity to highlight that hand hygiene in healthcare has saved millions of lives in the last few years.

Responding on a local level

Patients and patient organizations can act locally, using the resources from IAPO and from the wider patient advocacy community to show community members, health professionals and government agencies what we need to access safe, effective and affordable healthcare.

IAPO works with the Patients for Patient Safety team, which is part of the Service Delivery and Safety Department at the WHO, which helps member states understand what is important to patients and to encourage action - showing how so many active patients, healthcare professionals and health-focused organizations are committed to this priority area of healthcare.  

Check out the WHO information page to sign up to support the day of action on 5 May, download resources and see questions that you can ask your local providers and national-level health agencies. 
 

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