The World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World Patient Safety Day on Sept. 17 with the goal of recognizing patient safety as a global health priority. This year, the focus is on health worker safety, which may be more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current challenges and risks facing health care workers during the pandemic include infections, illness, psychological trauma and emotional disturbances. Working in these stressful environments may lead to errors, which may ultimately impact patients.
According to the WHO:
- 134 million adverse events occur each year due to unsafe care in hospitals in low and middle-income countries, contributing to 2.6 million deaths annually.
- 15% of hospital expenses can be attributed to treating patient safety failures in OECD countries.
- 4 out of 10 patients are harmed in the primary and ambulatory settings; up to 80% of harm in these settings can be avoided.
As an organization that employs more than 37,000 clinicians around the world, UnitedHealthcare understands that in order to keep our patients safe, health care workers must feel safe and protected first.
In order to help achieve this, UnitedHealthcare Global is implementing an evidenced-based global strategy to eliminate preventable harm and ensure optimal clinical quality outcomes. These efforts can help make sure patients are receiving quality care, no matter where care is provided. These include:
- the development and reporting of key performance indicators for all care delivery locations globally;
- valid and reliable safety culture measurement with clinicians, staff and leaders developing and implementing action plans based on the results;
- role-specific quality and safety training for all employees;
- leaders participating in executive walkrounds within all care delivery locations;
- tools to assist leaders in identifying potential latent risks within the organization;
- sharing lessons learned from adverse events across our markets
UnitedHealth Group also made a $10 million investment to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe and support impacted communities in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Ireland, Peru, Philippines and Portugal. The funding supports those most directly impacted by the pandemic, including health care workers, by purchasing protective and safety kits for frontline responders.
Additionally, to help reduce COVID-19 infection rates among clinicians, UnitedHealth Group Brasil launched a nurse technician safety campaign, which provides information on how to best protect health workers. The campaign also provides medical protocols for wearing personal protective equipment, such as face masks, respirators, gloves and gowns.
“We are together in our appreciation and support of health care workers,” said Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson, chief medical officer and senior vice president of UnitedHealthcare Global. “Your safety is essential in order to serve our patients and members around the world. We thank you today, on World Patient Safety Day, and each and every day for all you do to care for others.”