We often tend to think that healthcare has improved to the point where the risks involved are minor.
But patient safety is a serious global public health concern. There is a 1 in a million chance of a person being harmed while traveling by plane. In comparison, there is a 1 in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during health care. Industries with a perceived higher risk such as the aviation and nuclear industries have a much better safety record than health care.
It is estimated that there are 421 million hospitalizations in the world annually, and approximately 42.7 million adverse events occur in patients during these hospitalizations. Using conservative estimates, the latest data shows that patient harm is the 14th leading cause of morbidity and mortality across the world. Of course, some of the hospitalizations are to prevent a potential cause of death, and without them, the mortality rate would be much higher.
Estimates show that in high-income countries (HIC) as many as 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care. The harm can be caused by a range of incidents or adverse events, with nearly 50% of them being preventable. In a study on frequency and preventability of adverse events across 26 low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the rate of adverse events was around 8%, of which 83% could have been prevented and 30% led to death. Approximately two-thirds of all adverse events occur in LMICs.
The medical use of ionizing radiation is the largest single contributor to population exposure to radiation from artificial sources. Worldwide, there are over 3.6 billion x-ray examinations performed every year, with around 10% of them occurring in children. Additionally, there are over 37 million nuclear medicine and 7.5 million radiotherapy procedures conducted annually. Inappropriate or unskilled use of medical radiation can lead to health hazards both for patients and healthcare professionals.
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Last modified: April 9, 2018