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By ISQua Tuesday. Mar 31, 2020

COVID19 - Posts from the front line: Safety comes first, especially in times of crisis

In this very difficult moment, where we are trying our best to support our healthcare system, and especially the clinicians at the sharp end, we would like to share what we are experiencing and a bit of the knowledge related to the way we are facing this situation.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In this very difficult moment, where we are trying our best to support our healthcare system, and especially the clinicians at the sharp end, we would like to share what we are experiencing and a bit of the knowledge related to the way we are facing this situation. Especially we would like to share with you our experience as a Patient Safety Centre whose contribution is mostly based on expertise in human factors and communication of its staff.


Actions for community engagement:


  • We created a communication campaign to share all of the key messages related to basic health behavioural rules by adapting the WHO visual alerts and by putting into clear-to-understand format, all the information spread by our National Institute for Health. We disseminated through our institutional channels information regarding hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing, hygiene for indoor including how to manage waste in case of people positive to COVID, how to use protective equipment, and a dedicated phone number to call in the event of any onset symptoms for a preliminary first triage


Actions for supporting the medical directors in training and giving information to healthcare operators:


  • We adapted WHO material, National Institute for Health documents related to organizational issues and the several national and regional protocols and guidelines in practical tools that can be used in the specific care settings to support from the cognitive point of view clinicians in performing key actions. Examples: poster for the correct use of PPE, algorithm of the procedure for putting on and removing PPE, algorithm for the correct procedure for ventilation in ICU, moments for hand hygiene.


Actions for supporting clinical risk managers in the healthcare settings:


  • The regional community of Risk Managers promoted some priority activities in their support of the emergency:
  • trace reports related to the management of critical issues in an emergency, in order to help providing an immediate response and provide a record for the organization. The reporting and learning system have been made available for collecting these reports and for the purpose of analysing post-critical aspects of the emergency management, and identifying elements for learning and improving;
  • proactive assessment of risks for patients and operators due to the reorganization of clinical care pathways that are in continuous and progressive re-modulation and response to the need for operators that have to quickly remodel the usual working methods;
  • continuous updating of procedures for quality and safety systems;
  • active involvement in training and information relating to the use of PPE, their use and how to put them on and remove;
  • continuous monitoring of the correct application of infection prevention practices: hand washing, infection prevention practices;
  • development of strategies and tools for communication to operators, patients and citizens.


The crisis will be long therefore there is a need to face today’s situation with awareness and unity, with an eye to the future. For this reason, it is really important to give maximum transparency to what we are doing in the health service and to have consistency between internal and public communications, to keep the morale of the workers high and the confidence of the population towards the institutions. Safety comes first, especially in times of crisis.

This crisis can be also a great opportunity to learn, to understand our points of strength and our points of weakness in managing this unexpected crisis in our role of risk managers but in general as specialist in service of the public health. For this we are trying to create a record by analysing chronologically, events that happened and actions taken at the regional level.

This requires time, we need to arrive at the end of the tunnel to have a proper picture of the situation but we are confident that this will happen soon.

We are at your disposal to share the lessons learnt up to date hoping that the enormous efforts of our health system can be of some supports for others.

From the GRC Staff,

Sara, Elena, Elisabetta, Francesco, Giulia, Giulio e Michela

Sara Albolino, PhD-EurErg

Centro Gestione Rischio Clinico e sicurezza del paziente – WHO Collaborating Centre -

Direttore pro tempore  - Director Centre for Patient Safety
Chair Centro Collaborativo OMS - Chair WHO Collaborating Centre
Vice Presidente-Segretario Generale Federazione Mondiale di Ergonomia e Fattore Umano, ISQUA Expert

First published 21st March 2020 (

This is the first of a, hopeful series, of messages that Sara has shared with the WHO Global Patient Safety Network about what is going on in real time. This network is open to anyone with an interest in Patient Safety. Members regularly exchange materials and tools with the hope of creating bridges to fight and win this battle together.

Republished with permission from Sara Albolino

Sara and the WHO Collaborating Centre in Human Factors and Communication for the Delivery of Safe and Quality care team are joining us on Thursday, 9th April (12:00 UTC+1) for a special COVID-19 webinar on promoting patient safety during COVID-19. Find out more and register.

Read 2027 times Last modified on Friday, 17 April 2020 11:09

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