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`Patients for Patient Safety': an initiative to improve equitable access to knowledge and information

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Zhang Mingming, Researcher, Chinese Cochrane Centre, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, People's Republic of China


Patients and consumers of health care are at the very centre of the quest to improve patient safety. When things go wrong they are the victims of the harm induced. The World Alliance for Patient Safety has established ten areas of action; `Patients for Patient Safety' is one of these. The first Patients for Patient Safety workshop, held in London in November 2005, brought together 24 participants (7 from developing countries) who had suffered harm from medical errors. Difficulties in advancing health system safety were identified, especially in developing countries, including lack of information access, knowledge dissemination and public recognition.

During the past year, some actions have been taken to start this initiative to improve equitable access to knowledge and information in developing countries, including: submitting funding proposals, publishing advocacy papers, and introducing the concept of `patients for patient safety' among clinicians and medical students. As elsewhere in developing countries, challenges include: timely access to treatment and information; problems funding workshop organization and providing information materials for the public; and the values, culture and educational level of patients.

The objectives of the programme are: 1) to describe the needs of patients living in China that may be addressed by the above; 2) to analyse the foundations of equitable access to knowledge and information; and 3) to develop or establish strategic plans or alliances with other organizations whose activities are focused on developing countries.

There are many pressing needs facing health care in China. According to a Chinese funding agency, " the `Patients for Patient Safety' programme is very important and innovative", but "patient safety is a system project, it is very difficult to launch only `patient for patient safety' before the whole system has matured". Under these circumstances, standardization of national policy, improvement of the health-care insurance system and management of medicine are priorities in patient safety.