Every person around the world will, at some point in their life, take medications to prevent or treat illness. However, medications sometimes cause serious harm if incorrectly stored, prescribed, dispensed, administered, or monitored insufficiently. This is exactly why World Patient Safety Day has been created to help against this.
Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are the leading cause of avoidable harm in health care across the world. Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions, or staff shortages affect the safety of the medication use process. This can result in severe patient harm, disability, and even death. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated the risk of medication errors and associated medication-related harm. It is in this context that ‘Medication Safety’ has been selected as the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022, with the slogan ‘Medication Without Harm’.
The global campaign reaffirms the objectives of the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm launched by WHO in 2017. The campaign calls on stakeholders to prioritize and take early action in key areas associated with significant patient harm due to unsafe medication practices. These include high-risk situations, transitions of care, polypharmacy (concurrent use of multiple medications) and look-alike, sound-alike medications. The campaign will provide a special focus on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for medication safety, considering the serious disruption in the provision of health services.
World Patient Safety Day is one of WHO’s global public health days. It was established in 2019 by the Seventy-second World Health Assembly through the adoption of resolution WHA72.6 – “Global action on patient safety”. Its objectives are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and work toward global solidarity and action by the Member States to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.
Objectives of World Patient Safety Day 2022:
- RAISE global awareness of the high burden of medication-related harm due to medication errors and unsafe practices, and ADVOCATE urgent action to improve medication safety.
- ENGAGE key stakeholders and partners in the efforts to prevent medication errors and reduce medication-related harm.
- EMPOWER patients and families to be actively involved in the safe use of medication.
- SCALE UP implementation of the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm.
Commemorating World Patient Safety Day 2022
To observe the day, WHO is organizing a series of webinars on medication safety and is producing a number of medication safety solutions and technical products in 2022. On and around 17 September 2022, WHO will organize a wide range of activities and host a global virtual event. Celebrations will include lighting up of Geneva’s Jet d’Eau in orange colour. Member States and partners are invited to participate in the global campaign by pledging to implement the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm, organizing activities, holding events and lighting up iconic monuments in orange in support of medication safety.