Safe blood transfusions in Italy

There have been no HIV or Hepatitis infections from blood transfusions in the last 10 years in Italy.

More than three million transfusions of blood components were made in 2015, with 1709 positive cases of HIV or Hepatitis detected in 1691 donors, who were therefore disqualified from giving blood. This screening system ensures the safety of receiving blood and its components.

To read more (in Italian) about safe blood transfusions on the salute.gov.it website

The economics of patient safety

The latest report in the OECD’s series ‘Better policies for better health’ is “The Economics of Patient Safety: strengthening a value-based approach to reducing patient harm at national level”.

It makes the point that a principal objective of health care is to do no harm and to ensure that the benefits of treatment outweigh its deleterious effects. However, unnecessary harm to patients has been part of health care for as long as medicine has been practiced and continues to occur. In recent decades a greater research focus has examined and quantified the extent and costs of patient safety failure across countries and healthcare settings. The increasing complexity of health care also means a higher risk of harm requiring greater vigilance, focus and investment to ensure care is as safe and effective as possible.This report:

  • estimates the cost of patient harm
  • outlines a strategy for policy-makers and healthcare leaders to improve patient safety with limited resources.

To download the full report on the Economics of Patient Safety from the oecd.org website

The cost of unsafe care

Given the growing importance of patient safety for both health systems and patients, it is necessary to assess the impact of patient safety efforts and to develop priorities for action.

In addition to increased cost of healthcare services, unsafe care also leads to loss of trust in health care systems by the public and diminished satisfaction by patients and health care professionals.

Patient safety programmes may prevent and reduce such adverse events which ultimately results in less harm inflicted to patients. This new study ‘Costs of unsafe care and cost-effectiveness of patient safety programmes‘ aims to:
  • provide a comprehensive picture of the financial impact of poor patient safety, including poor prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections, on European Union’s health systems;
  • identify cost-effective patient safety programmes implemented in the EU/EEA Member States and develop an analysis identifying their success factors;
  • assess cost-effectiveness and efficiency of investment in patient safety programmes.
To download the full report on the costs of unsafe care from the ec.europa.eu website

Anti-microbial stewardship

About one third of hospital patients are prescribed antibiotics and up to 50% of their use is unnecessary or inappropriate.  Whilst some EU countries have made significant strides in the control of drug-resistant infections, overuse and the spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) urgently need to be addressed in others. As drug-resistant infections are not contained by national borders, the approach must be strict, consistent and coordinated at European and international level.

Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) was a topic at the 21st Congress of the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists in Vienna where great emphasis was placed on the importance of establishing well-trained, multidisciplinary teams supported by committed leadership. As medicines experts with knowledge of infection control, hospital pharmacists play an important role as educators of other healthcare workers and patients.

AMS can be described as a series of multi-professional interventions across all care settings. Alongside infection control and decontamination action it has become an essential strategy deployed in hospitals across Europe to fight multi-drug resistant ‘superbugs’.

Efficient AMS programmes hinge on first-rate management skills across hospital and community settings, and the availability of local guidance. This must go hand in hand with surveillance data on antibiotics use and occurrence of resistance so that compliance with guidance can be measured, and its impact evaluated.

To read more about Antimicrobial Stewardship on the epha.org website

Health MEPs propose blueprint for safer healthcare

Between 8% and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals in the EU suffer adverse events such as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which place a heavy burden on limited health service budgets. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 1 in 20 hospital in-patients, on average, suffers from an HAI in the EU, that is to say, 4.1 million patients annually, and every year 37,000 people in the EU die as a result of an HAI, even though 20%-30% of these infections are considered to be preventable by intensive hygiene and control programmes.

MEPs have suggested a number of measures to improve patient safety, such as tackling growing resistance to human and veterinary antibiotics by using existing treatments more responsibly and promoting innovation. Specific measures include strictly prohibiting their use without prescription, implementing marketing practices designed to prevent conflicts of interest between producers and prescribers, and better information, monitoring and infection control.

Noting that resistance to certain commonly used antibiotics is encountered in at least 25% of cases in several member states, MEPs also urge pharmaceutical companies to invest in developing new antimicrobial agents. MEPs also advocate responsible use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including medicated feed, by allowing their use only for treatment after veterinary diagnosis. Two pieces of legislation on the matter are under discussion in the European Parliament. The use of veterinary antibiotics should therefore gradually be restricted to therapeutic purposes, by progressively eliminating their use for prophylactic ones. Metaphylaxis, i.e. the mass medication of animals to cure sick ones on farms whilst preventing the infection of healthy ones, should also be minimised, say MEPs.

To find out more about the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, click here on http://ecdc.europa.eu