Safe Health Workers, Safe Patients

Safe Health Workers, Safe Patients

Authored By:
Dr Shubhi Anand
Clinical Pharmacist


Each year, nearly 444,000 individuals die due to avoidable hospital errors. Fortunately, care providers, support staff, and consumers acting in unison can improve patient safety outcomes.


Through safety focused team initiatives, organizations can improve team performance. Patient safety involves avoiding errors, limiting harm, and reducing the likeliness of mistakes through planning that fosters communication, lowers infection rates, and reduces errors.

Safety refers to the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. Similarly healthcare workers require safety from various types of injuries and so do patients from various side effects of the drug, medication errors, prescription errors and dispensing errors.

There are several types of injuries faced by the healthcare workers during their jobs which include sharp injuries, harmful exposures to chemicals and hazardous drugs, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Medication errors and unsafe medication practice are the major cause of injury and are avoidable. These errors can occur at any stage of medication use.

Healthcare workers are exposed to various which includes

o   Infectious agents:

These are the agents that have the ability to produce infection or infectious disease. Healthcare workers are at high risk of exposure with these agents due to their job. Healthcare workers are exposed to blood and other body fluids through needle stick and other sharps injuries, mucous membrane, and skin exposures.


o   Chemical Hazards: 

The presence of hazardous chemicals exists in healthcare settings and possesses the exposure risk for healthcare workers, patients and others.

The hazardous chemicals are used for the following:

· Treat patients (e.g., antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases)

· Clean, disinfect and sterilize work surfaces (e.g., phenolics, quaternary ammonium compounds, bleach) and medical supplies and instruments (e.g., ethylene oxide, glutaraldehyde)

·  As a fixative for tissue specimens (e.g., xylene, toluene, formaldehyde).


o   Physical Hazards 

These include the musculoskeletal disorders which are mainly caused because of handling heavy weights. In healthcare settings this occurs due to repeated handling of patients, this includes heavy manual lifting when transferring or repositioning patients and working in extremely awkward positions.


o   Dentistry:

Dental professionals are exposed to certain types of work related safety hazards that are mostly different in comparison to other healthcare workers. They are not at the only risk of contact with patients but are exposed to other factors as well which includes respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders, exposure to radiation, and eye injuries.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized patient safety as a global health priority and has marked annually on 17th September. The basic objective of establishing world patient safety day is to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and action to promote patient safety. Patient safety is a serious global public health concern.


Patient safety is a discipline that emphasizes safety in health care through the prevention, reduction, reporting, and analysis of medical error that often leads to adverse effects. The leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in the healthcare system across the world is unsafe medication practice and medication errors, these errors can occur at different stages of the medication use process.


When weak medication systems or human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions or staff shortages affect prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring practices further resulting in harm, disability and death, Medication error is known to occur. There are several interventions that have been developed to minimize the impact of medication error. 


   Patient safety is a healthcare discipline that revolves around avoiding errors, limiting harm, and reducing the likeliness of mistakes through planning, lowers infection rates, and reduces errors. It aims to prevent and reduce the risk, errors and harm that might occur to patients during healthcare. Patient safety is about providing quality essential health services which should be effective, safe and patient- centered. The occurrence of adverse events due to unsafe care is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.


To ensure successful implementation of patient safety strategies; clear policies, leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled health care professionals and effective involvement of patients in their care, are required. There are several patients suffering from injuries or dying because of unsafe and poor quality health care. There are several risks associated with healthcare which is a major challenge for patient safety and also pays for the burden of harm due to unsafe care.

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