Patient safety

Action on Patient Safety: High 5s

1 November 2007

As part of the Commonwealth Fund's 2007 International Symposium on Health Care Policy, which brings together Ministers of Health of the Commonwealth Countries, six Ministers of Health or their representatives from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America agreed to undertake collaborative action to implement five standardized protocols related to patient safety solutions over the next five years.

The signing ceremony was attended by patient safety leaders and advocates from around the world, including Sir Liam Donaldson, Chairman of the World Alliance for Patient Safety, World Health Organization; Dr. Dennis O’Leary, President of the Joint Commission; Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director, Pan American Health Organization, and other PAHO experts; Dr. Karen Davis, President of the Commonwealth Fund; and Robin Osborn, Vice President and Director, International Program in Health Policy and Practice, also from the Commonwealth Fund, among many others.

The High 5s initiative aims to achieve significant, sustained and measurable reduction in the occurrence of five patient safety problems over five years in at least six countries, and to build an international learning network for sharing of knowledge and experiences in implementing standardized operating protocols on patient safety. The project, which will be carried out in three phases, will focus on the following five standard operating protocols (High 5s):

  • Managing concentrated injectable medicines
  • Assuring medication accuracy at transitions in care
  • Communication during patient handovers
  • Improved hand hygiene to prevent healthcare-associated infections, and
  • Performance of correct procedures at correct body sites.


Six countries meet on WHO’s "High 5s" Project to improve patient safety in hospitals

The Joint Commission