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QU Marks World Patient Safety Day | Qatar University

QU Marks World Patient Safety Day


This article is primarily intended to raise raising global awareness on the importance of patient safety towards improving patient safety in healthcare system and taking action to reduce avoidable harm in health care. In this context, we present the opinions and insight of several Qatar University College of Pharmacy (QU-CPH) experts from the about the importance of patient safety.

Dr Alla El-Awaisi, QU-CPH Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and QU Health Chair of Interprofessional Education Program, commented: “Patient safety has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global health priority and as such health and academic institutions accreditors are constantly seeking evidence of patient safety initiatives in their daily practices and within the different health programs. We at QU Health are working collaboratively to build capacity and equip healthcare students with the competency needed to respond to the current and future needs of the healthcare system in providing high-quality safe care in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. In addition to specific content incorporated within the curricula of the different health programs at Qatar University.”

Dr. Alla added that “We provide students with interprofessional educational opportunities with a focus on patient safety competencies such as the importance of teamwork, communication, and how to recognize, respond to and disclose patient safety incidents. These activities raise the students’ awareness about this important topic and provide them with the needed knowledge, required skills to exhibit the attitude to practice safely upon graduation.”
Professor Derek Stewart, QU-CPH Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice and QU Health Director of Academic Quality, said, “Medication errors are a major public health concern that negatively impact patient safety and health outcomes. These errors are highly prevalent, occurring at any stage of the medication use processes including prescribing, dispensing, medication administration and monitoring. In March 2017, the World Health Organization launched the third global patient safety challenge, ‘Medication without Harm’, aiming to, ‘drive a process of change to reduce patient harm generated by unsafe medication practices and medication errors’. Research being conducted at Qatar University in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation has sought to quantify and characterize medication errors, along with the reasons and factors which lead to error. Further interventions are being developed to reduce and eliminate, where possible, these errors. In addition, efforts are underway to make reporting of medication errors more effective and efficient.”

Prof. Ahmed Awaisu, QU-CPH Head Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice provided his insight about the role of academia and healthcare organizations in patient and medication safety. He mentioned: “Patient safety is a critical component of healthcare quality and successful healthcare delivery globally. International health organizations, academic and healthcare institutions, and accreditation agencies place patient safety as an important priority to reduce the risk of preventable harms to patients during the provision of healthcare to an adequate minimum. Medication safety is equally an important facet of patient safety. QU-CPH plays a significant role and contributes in building patient and medication safety culture, education, and research in Qatar and beyond. The College has included the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommended patient safety modules in its undergraduate program curriculum. From community service standpoint, previous public education and outreach events organized by CPH centered on medication safety issues.” Prof. Ahmed further stated that: “Several professors from the College conduct patient/medication safety research projects in close collaboration with practitioners and researchers from other healthcare institutions in Qatar. Research projects areas include, but not restricted to, patient safety culture in hospital and community pharmacies, medication errors, pharmacovigilance, and adverse drug reaction reporting. Professors have obtained both intramural and extramural grants for conducting relevant research in these areas and have published their findings and reputable scientific journals. These efforts and initiatives invested by the QU-CPH are geared toward building a strong patient safety culture, education, and research in the State of Qatar. Patient and medication safety is everyone’s concern; therefore, concerted joint efforts are needed from healthcare professionals, researchers, safety personnel, and patients to build patient safety culture in healthcare institutions and to minimize the burden associated with medical and medication misadventures in Qatar and beyond.” He adds.

Dr. Anas Hamad, Director of Pharmacy at the Qatar’s National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCR) and QU-CPH Adjunct Assistant Professor in Clinical pharmacy and Practice talked about the importance of health workers safety. He said, “Healthcare is one of the most hazardous sectors to work at, sometimes more than construction or manufacturing. Healthcare facilities have serious hazards including transferring and lifting patients, needlesticks, chemicals, infections, violence, stress, and others. Healthcare work occurs in an unpredictable environment with a unique culture. Healthcare providers are ethically obliged to “do no harm” for patients. Some may even put their own health and safety at risk to help their patients. Therefore, it is very important to make the physical and psychological safety of staff a first priority for any healthcare organization. This will help in ensuring a better and safer healthcare is being provided for all patients.”

Dr. Anas further stressed on the importance of sustainable quality and patient safety improvement. He adds, “Identifying improvement changes in healthcare is relatively easy. However, the biggest challenge is sustaining improvement efforts over time. A main reason is the failure to make a balance between involving people in the process and getting results quickly. The fact that healthcare organizations must continue to deliver care to patients while simultaneously innovating the way care is delivered can be also a challenge. The most successful healthcare organizations achieve the right balance by securing the three inter-connected pillars of sustainable quality and patient safety improvement; efficient and effective operating system, supportive management infrastructure, and deep-rooted learning organization.

Dr. Monica Zolezzi, QU-CPH Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice, and the Coordinator of the Structured Practice Experiences in Pharmacy (SPEP) Program commented that, “The pharmacist is uniquely trained to be able to impact medication safety at the individual patient level through medication management skills that are part of the clinical pharmacist's role, but also to analyze the performance of medication processes and to lead redesign efforts to mitigate drug-related outcomes that may cause harm. At QU-CPH, the curriculum supports the worldwide implementation of patient safety education. As part of the CPH experiential education program at QU, we partner with our colleagues in practice to expose our students to various practice settings where they gain valuable experience on several aspects of medication safety, along with interpersonal and project management skills, all of which are required to prepare pharmacists to be confident medication safety practitioners.”

“Basically, all the assignments that students complete during their undergraduate experiential education program address different aspects of medication safety. One of these, the “SWOT Analysis Assignment” (an acronym for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) was highlighted last year by students and preceptors as an innovate way for the student to understand and identify the potential medication-related risks within their practice setting, to reflect on them, and to develop an improvement plan or strategy to overcome the barriers to risk reduction. This is just an example of the commitment of QU-CPH to support a culture that emphasizes in patient-centered care to prepare future pharmacists to prioritize and implement patient safety when in practice.” she added.
Dr Daoud Al-Badriyeh, QU-CPH Associate Professor of Health Economics and Outcome Research, narrated, “A young woman died from an overdose during chemotherapy. A man had a wrong leg amputated. A nine years old boy died during a ‘minor’ surgery due to a drug mix-up. While such horrible cases can make headlines in media, they are only a tiny part of a much bigger problem. In the USA, medical errors are shockingly the third-leading cause of death in the population, preceded by cardiovascular disease and cancer only. While errors also have a monetary burden to them, given the increased resource utilization, not all costs are directly measured. Patients show loss of trust in the system, and health care providers show loss of self-esteem and frustration. Society overall also experiences lost productivity and lower health status. All of this while keeping in mind that only less than 10% of errors are anticipated to be known and are reported”. Dr Daoud added: “While the need to enhance patient safety is acknowledged, the real difficulty is that decision-makers have been looking at patient safety as a standalone problem. There is really no single solution to this. No standalone actions to improve safety can be found. Newer strategies that are based on ‘combined’ efforts and goals are needed at many of the different aspects of practices; from improving the provider-patient partnership, the electronic systems for error monitoring, the standards of health IT, and the collaborative research agendas, to addressing the massive gaps in knowledge, to the need of the stakeholders, regulatory organizations and insurance companies to motivate error reduction and enhance competencies.”

Dr Daoud elaborated, “In Qatar, there is clearly room for much effort and relevant studies. Within the context of pharmacy, here in the College of Pharmacy, Qatar University, I am currently leading several funded initiatives in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation that are underway to analyze the reported medication-related errors in the different hospitals and their consequences, including the strategies adopted and the generated cost savings.”
“Overall, the problem of errors is very complex, and it may still take us several decades for our health systems to be truly safe. In Qatar at least, there is clearly room for much effort and relevant studies.” He further added.

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