Monday January 20, 2020

WHO Calling for Urgent Action to End Bad Health Care Practices Responsible for Killing Millions of Patients

WHO issued a report in advance of the first World Patient Safety Day on September 17

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WHO, Health Care, Patients
Intravenous bags hang above young cancer patients at Rady's Children Hospital in San Diego, California, Sept. 4, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to end bad health care practices responsible for killing millions of patients around the world every year.  WHO issued a report in advance of the first World Patient Safety Day on September 17.

People who fall ill go to their doctor or sign themselves into a hospital in the expectation of receiving treatment that will cure them. Unfortunately, in many cases the treatment they receive will kill them

The World Health Organization reports one in 10 patients is harmed in high-income countries. It says 134 million patients in low-and-middle-income countries are harmed because of unsafe care leading to 2.6 million deaths annually. WHO notes most of these deaths are avoidable.

Neelam Dhingra-Kuram is WHO coordinator of Patient Safety and Risk Management. She said harm occurs mainly because of wrong diagnosis, wrong prescriptions, the improper use of medication, incorrect surgical procedures and health care associated infections.

WHO, Health Care, Patients
The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to end bad health care practices responsible for killing millions of patients around the world every year. Pixabay

“But the major reason for this harm is that in the health care facilities, in the system there is lack of patient safety culture. And, that means that the leadership is not strong enough…So, lack of open communication, lack of systems to learn from mistakes and errors. So, already suppose errors are happening and harm is taking place. If you do not learn from it, it is really a lost opportunity,” she said.

Dhingra-Kuram said systems must be created where health care workers are encouraged to report mistakes and are not fearful of being blamed for reporting errors.

Besides the avoidable and tragic loss of life, WHO reports patient harm leads to economic losses of trillions of dollars globally each year. It says medication errors alone cost an estimated $42 billion annually.

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On the other hand, WHO says a study in the United States finds safety improvement in patient care has resulted in estimated savings of $28 billion in Medicare hospitals between 2010 and 2015. (VOA)

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Stroke Patients At a Risk of Suffering From Heart Attack: Study

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Heart attack
Stroke Patients more likely to have a heart attack or another major cardiovascular event within thirty days of having a stroke. Pixabay

Both women and men are significantly more likely to have a heart attack or another major cardiovascular event, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Stroke, demonstrated for the first time that in people with no underlying heart disease, after a stroke they were more than 20 times more likely than those who didn’t have a stroke (23-fold in women and 25-fold in men) to have a first-in-life major adverse cardiovascular event.

These events include things like heart attack, chest pain, cardiac failure or cardiac death.

This risk dropped after 30 days, but even one year after a stroke, men and women both still had twice the risk of a major cardiac event than those who didn’t have a stroke, according to the study.

“This shows that after taking risk factors into consideration, having experienced a recent stroke was independently associated with the incidence of major adverse cardiac events,” said study researcher Luciano Sposato, Associate Professor at Western University in Canada.

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Stroke Patients may suffer from heart attack, chest pain, cardiac failure or cardiac death. Pixabay

“This leads us to believe that there are underlying mechanisms linked to stroke that may be causing heart disease,” Sposato added.

For the findings, the research team examined ICES data for more than 90,000 adults over the age of 65 in Ontario with no pre-existing clinical diagnosis of heart disease.

The researchers examined the incidence of cardiac events in two groups – a group of just over 20,000 that had a stroke and a group of approximately 70,000 individuals without stroke but with similar vascular risk factors, comorbidities and demographic characteristics.

In a paper published earlier in 2019, Sposato and collaborators used animal models to back up this finding by demonstrating that the brain damage caused by stroke leads to inflammation and scarring in the left atrium of the heart.

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These changes are well-known structural abnormalities for a number of heart diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias.

The researchers hope this information will inform clinical practice and encourage health care providers to watch for cardiovascular symptoms in patients who recently had strokes. (IANS)