IAPO calls upon expert patients to lead the global effort on improving patient safety today 1st World Patient Safety Day

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

17 September 2019 | News Release

Today the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations calls upon expert patients to engage with and lead on the global effort to improve patient safety while marking the 1st World Patient Safety Day. Expert patients are patients with multiple chronic conditions who have developed unique insights and perspectives on their health care systems and services because of their extensive use of health care services.

IAPO congratulates the global health community for increasing its focus on prioritizing patient safety and standing in solidarity with us to ensure that no one is harmed while receiving care.

At the World Health Assembly in May 2019, IAPO recognised and endorsed the World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s report Global action on patient safety and acknowledged that patient safety has become a top global health priority.

Adverse events due to unsafe health care are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.  Unsafe health care costs health systems worldwide trillions of dollars every year and patients in low and middle income countries are more likely to suffer harm than those in high-income countries. 83% of patient harm is avoidable 1 2 3

This World Patient Safety Day IAPO is recommending that:

  • Health systems engage their expert patient communities to understand patient harm better than ever before. Engaging expert patient perspective in co-creation and co-design of research on patient safety is the best approach to map where harm is most likely to occur and what evidence-based measures are needed to prevent this patient harm.
  • World leaders must continue to prioritise patient safety in all national policies. The annual Patient Safety Ministerial Summits must be strengthened and Health Ministers must support them with their participation.  
  • Patient safety and expert patient enagement in patient safety improvement  must become a fully integarted part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  Patient harm errodes confidence in health systems and encourages underuse, making them UHC unsustainable.
  • We must create an enbling environment and platform for international multi-stakeholder collaboration on patient safety. Expert patients must be the backbone of these collaborative initiatives
  • We explore new innovation and technology supported avenues of montoring ,  reporting and preventong patient harm. Digitization, artifical intellegence and machine learning can greatly enhance timley, pertinanent and accurate data gathering and analysis to prevent patient harm and accelerate patient safety improvments. 

This World Patient Safety Day is also a timely opportunity to reflect upon global health and wellbeing ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage on 23rd September 2019. Patient safety is fundamental in strengthening health care systems and making progress towards effective universal health coverage under Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote health and well-being for all at all ages). A safe Universal Health Coverage is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.



Contact: Rachel Githinji

Communications Lead  IAPO

Tel: +44(0)2072508280




  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division, Board on Health Care Services, Board on Global Health, Committee on Improving the Quality of Health Care Globally. Crossing the global quality chasm: improving health care worldwide. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2019.
  2. Slawomirski L, Auraaen A. The economics of patient safety. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019.
  3. Flott K, Fontana G, Darzi A. The global state of patient safety. London: Imperial College London, 2019



Notes to the Editor

IAPO Internal Resources

Patient Safety Toolkit

IAPO Policy Briefing #5 - Patient Safety.

World Health Organization Resources

  1. World Health Organization World Patient Safety Day  Campaign Site https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-patient-safety-day/2019
  2. World Health Assembly: WHO Director General’s Report: Global action on patient safety https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA72/A72_26-en.pdf
  3. World Health Assembly Resolution Global action on patient safety  WHA72.6 Agenda item 12.5 28 May 2019: https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB144/B144_CONF8Rev1-en.pdf

How Can You Enhance Patient Safety?

If you are a patient or caregiver

  • Be actively involved in your own care
  • It is good to ask questions; safe health care starts with good communication
  • Be sure to provide accurate information about your health history

If you are a health worker or health care leader

  • Engage patients as partners in their care
  • Work together for patient safety
  • Ensure continuous professional development to improve your skills and knowledge in patient safety
  • Create an open and transparent safety culture in health care settings
  • Encourage blame-free reporting of and learning from errors

If you are a policy maker

  • Investing in patient safety results in financial savings
  • Invest in patient safety to save lives and build trust
  • Make patient safety a national health priority

If you are a researcher, student, academic, or professional institution

  • Generate evidence to improve patient safety, your research matters
  • Encourage research in patient safety
  • Incorporate patient safety in educational curricula and courses

If you are from a professional association, international organization or foundation

  • Promote patient safety for achieving universal health coverage
  • Provide learning and development opportunities for patient safety

If you are a public health advocate or from a patient organization

  • Promote patients’ voices in their own safe care
  • Advocate for safety in health care as a requirement