Offering the latest news in health care quality and safety, the ISQua blog also features guest posts from the best and brightest in the industry.

By Dr Clive Fernandes, Group Clinical Director for Wockhardt Group Hospitals, India Thursday. Sep 12, 2019

Creating a patient safe environment: A myth or something we as healthcare professionals can achieve


We all have heard the phrase “Primum non nocere” and know that it means “first, to do no harm” which makes me think “Do we as healthcare institutions harm patients, and if so why?


Many studies across the globe, specially the IOM report of 1998, have shown that yes, patients are harmed in healthcare settings globally. Yes, Bad things do happen in good hospitals.


If we pause for a while and think of the reason why, most of the time it always drills down to one simple reason, of people cutting corners and not following the defined protocols. They have innumerable reasons for doing so and can justify the same, not understanding that this one act of theirs could be the difference between an expected safe outcome or an unexpected unsafe outcome.


Most of us link accreditation to patient safety. Today I would like to ask all healthcare organizations, who go in for different certifications and accreditations to improve patient safety, to pose two questions to themselves, as I believe self-introspection is the best method of improvement:


  1. Do these help improve outcomes and the answer is certainly Yes.
  2. Can you definitely state you are now a 100 per cent safe organization when it comes to patient safety and no patient risks being harmed inadvertently? And the answer of healthcare organizations to this one is where lies the challenge.


A lot of people draw a comparison between the airline industry and healthcare. I would like to point out the biggest difference between these industries, and that is where lies the catch, in the airline industry the crew and pilot are all part of the flight that takes off along with the passengers and cutting corners would risk putting them in harm’s way too, something which is not the case in the healthcare industry.


On the occasion of World Patient Safety Day, I would like to ask all healthcare professionals to take a simple pledge that they will never ever cut corners when it comes to following protocols designed to provide safe patient care.


It is a small pledge to take, but a mountain of a journey to comply with as it will require each one of us to change and modify our behaviour not only at our workplace but in every sphere of life.


This little act of ours will surely make a difference more so in healthcare as decades of research and evidence have already highlighted most of the things that can go wrong and there are global organizations that have defined evidence-based safety protocols to prevent these.


We have adapted and adopted most of these guidelines and now need to follow them the way they are defined 365 / 24 / 7. 


Simply put, its time to walk the talk.


Dr Clive Fernandes, Group Clinical Director for Wockhardt Group Hospitals, India