World Patient Safety Day – September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020
World Patient Safety Day - September 17, 2020

Patient Safety Day

World Patient Safety Day was created by World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2019 to be observed every year on September 17th with the goal of increasing public awareness and engagement, enhancing global understanding and spurring global solidarity and action to promote patient safety. Like most things in the world today, this year’s theme centers around the COVID-19 pandemic with the theme of “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety” and this year’s slogan is “Safe health workers, safe patients.”

Patient safety as a discipline has emerged in recent years in response to increasingly complex healthcare systems which, as they get more complex, can lead to more patient harm. The discipline’s goal is to prevent and reduce the risks, errors, and harm that occur to patients during the provision of health care. Because people make mistakes, expecting flawless performance from those working in complex, high-stress environments is unrealistic and will not improve safety. The best system is one which places the appropriate structure and safeguards in place to significantly reduce if not completely eliminate, the possibility of individual care providers making mistakes.

Why Does Patient Safety Need Its Own Day?

  • Adverse events resulting from unsafe care are one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.
  • In high-income countries, roughly 1 in 10 patients is harmed while in the hospital and nearly 50% of these cases are preventable.
  • Every year 134 million adverse events occur in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries due to unsafe care, resulting in 2.6 million deaths.
  • Globally, up to 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary or outpatient care settings and 80% of this harm is preventable.
  • In high-income countries, 15% of total hospital activity and expenditure is a direct result of adverse events.
  • Medication errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm and globally cost healthcare systems an estimated $42 billion annually.
  • Healthcare-associated infections occur in 7 out of 100 hospitalized patients in high-income countries and 10 out of every 100 in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Unsafe surgical procedures cause issues for 25% of patients with nearly 7 million patients suffering complications each year, 1 million of whom die as a result.
  • Unsafe injection practices can lead to HIV and Hepatitis B or C infections and account for an estimated 9.2 million years of life lost to disability and death worldwide.
  • Diagnostic errors occur in roughly 5% of adult outpatient appointments, more than half of which have the potential to lead to severe harm. This means that most people will be inaccurately diagnosed at some point in their lifetime.
  • Radiation errors involving overexposure to radiation, or radiation being administered to the wrong patient or wrong site occur in roughly 15 out of every 10,000 treatments.
  • Sepsis affects an estimated 31 million people worldwide, leading to more than 5 million deaths every year.
  • Venous thromboembolism (blood clots) are responsible for one-third of hospitalization-associated complications, with an estimated 3.9 million cases in high-income countries and 6 million in low- and middle-income countries.

World Patient Safety Day Events

Organizations all around the world will be hosting events in honor of World Patient Safety Day. A list of events sorted by country can be found here: While most US events are being held locally, the Patient Safety Movement is hosting #uniteforsafecare, a free, three-hour YouTube Live virtual event beginning at 5 pm EDT with a combination of entertainers and speakers headlined by Bill Clinton; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO; Belinda Carlisle; and Dariush Eghbali, Iranian artist, humanitarian and founder of Ayeneh Foundation. More information on their event can be found at

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