Patient safety

Knowledge is the enemy of unsafe care

1st Meeting on the Global Research Programme for Patient Safety

1 November 2005

Research is essential to understand the extent and causes of patient harm, and also to develop appropriate solutions. It is also important to sensitize policy-makers on the importance of safety in health care, and to stimulate policy-making leading to safer care. However, research for patient safety remains relatively under-developed in many countries, and at the same time, there are duplications of research efforts. The knowledge gained in one domain and context is not easily transferred to other contexts, or to other related domains. In addition, the potential for collaboration and exchange on a global scale are not well developed.

The 1st Meeting on the Global Research Programme for Patient Safety took place in Washington, DC, US, on 1 November 2005. The meeting brought together about 40 international experts in the fields of research, patient safety, change management, health care organization, in addition to representatives from research funding institutions and international agencies. Areas for discussion at the meeting were the following:

  • How research will effectively contribute to eliminate patient harm?
  • Building Capacity and capability to conduct research.
  • Towards setting a Global Health Research Agenda.

The meeting highlighted the following issues:

  • Difficulty in ascertaining how to measure outcomes due to low frequency
  • The need for appropriate metrics. Particularly in areas of health care where research is hardly undertaken (primary care, mental care, rehabilitation, etc.)
  • The need for advanced methods to evaluate interventions and solutions. Also, innovative methods (qualitative studies and simulations)
  • The advantages of learning from other industries
  • The need to best involve the consumer in research on patient safety
  • More economic analysis of patient safety, including the study of incentives and barriers
  • Methods on human behaviour and the psychology of organizations
  • The insufficient funding of research in general, and on patient safety research in particular, needs to be addressed
  • Need for establishing alliances with other research areas with better funding
  • The differential needs of developing countries with regards to research on patient safety need to be addressed. Recommendations to developing countries should encourage investments in patient safety research.

The meeting called for increased global collaboration for patient safety research.