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Sustaining safety beyond the provision of care

Article-Sustaining safety beyond the provision of care

doctor and patient
Saudi Patient Safety Centre efforts further extend to enhancing the capabilities of healthcare providers in the realm of patient safety through training and educational initiatives.

Over the past few decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in advancing its healthcare system, resulting in substantial improvements in healthcare quality and safety. These enhancements have been realised through a comprehensive restructuring of the Saudi healthcare system. Central to this transformation are the initiatives undertaken by the Health Sector Transformation Program, which have yielded positive outcomes for healthcare beneficiaries in Saudi Arabia. 

The Saudi Vision 2030 has underscored the significance of patient safety by making it a central element of healthcare system reform. This emphasis culminated in the establishment of the Saudi Patient Safety Center (SPSC) in 2017, a pioneering governmental organisation in the Middle East. The SPSC is committed to ensuring the safety of healthcare services on a national scale, with a dedicated mission of fostering safer healthcare practices. 

The SPSC's mission revolves around spearheading patient safety initiatives, all in alignment with the overarching goal of achieving a safer healthcare environment. During its presidency of the G20 in 2020, Saudi Arabia took the initiative to place patient safety at the forefront of global discussions. As a result, one significant outcome was the establishment of the Global Patient Safety Leaders Group (Leaders Group). This group focused on facilitating collaboration among nations worldwide, leveraging collective expertise to create a viable blueprint for the ongoing process of change in patient safety. Additionally, it aimed to enhance economic growth by reducing global healthcare costs. Saudi Arabia's proactive approach extended to its participation in previous ministerial summits and its hosting of the fourth summit, which resulted in the formulation of the "Jeddah Declaration”. 

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Saudi Arabia also played a pivotal role in the introduction and passage of the Global Action on Patient Safety Resolution during the 72nd World Health Assembly, highlighting its commitment to elevating patient safety on the global stage. The SPSC has embraced numerous strategic commitments, with a clear example being the Global Patient Safety Agenda 2020. Notably, the SPSC became a World Health Organization Collaborating Center (WHOcc) for its expertise in patient safety policies and strategies. Moreover, the SPSC launched the Patient Safety Caravan initiative on a national scale, spanning more than 27 hospitals, with the aim of empowering patients in matters related to patient safety. This initiative also led to the implementation of the Training of Trainers (TOT) programme. 

Furthermore, the SPSC actively collaborates with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by sharing annual data. This collaboration helps assess the level of patient safety culture and serves as a means to predict and improve the financial impact on healthcare. 

To achieve the SPSC's vision of "safer healthcare" nationwide, the SPSC has been implementing the annual National Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture for the past five years. Additionally, the SPSC initiated and launched a national platform for reporting sentinel and medication events aimed at streamlining the reporting and learning process within the Saudi Arabian healthcare system. 

Consequently, the SPSC developed a profound insight into patient safety culture and has addressed challenges within the reporting and learning system. This has led to a reinforcement of the Just Culture principles, emphasising fairness and accountability in healthcare. Additionally, a national programme has been put in place for medication safety reporting, with the aim of streamlining the reporting process for medication-related incidents. This unified approach to medication reporting contributes to the overarching goal of reducing medication errors in healthcare. 

The SPSC also developed and introduced the National Patient Safety Taxonomy – an adverse event classification system. This taxonomy is currently being evaluated for global adoption and is strongly considered for integration with the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11) coding system where it would be known as the International Classification for Adverse Events (ICAE). The ICAE would provide internationally standardised terminology for adverse events, contributing to a more uniform approach to classifying and addressing patient safety issues on a global scale. 

Furthermore, the SPSC's efforts extend to enhancing the capabilities of healthcare providers in the realm of patient safety through training and educational initiatives. These programmes have even been adopted by certain low/middle-income countries, underscoring their value in promoting patient safety beyond Saudi Arabia's borders.

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To recognise and celebrate innovative projects and initiatives that have advanced the goal of reducing patient harm in the Saudi Healthcare sector, the SPSC has instituted the annual Patient Safety Awards. These awards serve as a platform to showcase novel and impactful contributions, highlighting the commitment to patient safety within the healthcare community. 

Patient safety is a collective effort that transcends individual healthcare providers, organisation types, or specific clinical fields. It requires collaboration across the healthcare spectrum. The SPSC has embraced a global strategic objective to involve and empower patients and their families to play a pivotal role in advancing the safer healthcare journey. Consequently, the implementation of initiatives like the Patient Safety Caravan and patient engagement campaigns holds significant importance in the pursuit of safer healthcare delivery. The SPSC's work plays a pivotal role in shaping strategies for patient empowerment and engagement, underscoring the importance of the active involvement of patients and their families in promoting safety within the healthcare system. 

The SPSC is actively engaged in equipping patients with educational materials, workshops, and awareness campaigns to empower them with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and mitigate avoidable risks in their healthcare journeys. One pivotal approach in this regard is the promotion of shared decision-making. This collaborative process involves patients and healthcare providers jointly making healthcare decisions, taking into account the most current clinical evidence and the patient's unique values and preferences. 

Moreover, the SPSC strongly emphasises gathering and analysing patient feedback about their care experiences, as well as encouraging the reporting of safety incidents. This valuable input helps identify areas for improvement within the healthcare system, ultimately serving to prevent future harm to patients. Additionally, the SPSC advocates for policies that empower patients, further reinforcing their role in shaping their healthcare and contributing to overall safety. 

Saudi Arabia has restated its commitment to ensuring that everyone receives safe and high-quality healthcare through the strong dedication of the Saudi Patient Safety Center (SPSC). Consequently, significant and forward-looking initiatives have been implemented over the past five years to enhance service quality and protect patient well-being. 

Ensuring patient safety in healthcare is not limited to any specific sector, organisation type, or clinical setting, the mission of patient safety transcends these boundaries and extends to all facets of healthcare. Saudi Arabia, like all nations, shares common challenges related to its health system, including addressing issues like pandemics, infectious diseases, and communicable illnesses that impact public health. Accordingly, the Saudi Vision 2030 and health transformation are ambitious yet achievable. To get there, the SPSC is developing a national strategy to lay out strategy commitments, formed to globally pioneer disruptive, sustainable, and consistent improvements in patient safety. 

In the pursuit of sustaining improvements in the healthcare system, patient safety must take centrestage at all healthcare system levels. This means making patient safety a top priority, not only in the provision of healthcare but also in addressing broader healthcare challenges. By doing so, healthcare systems can work toward a more resilient and effective response to health crises and ultimately enhance the well-being of patients and the broader population. 


Dr. Ali Asery

Dr. Ali Asery is the Director General at the Saudi Patient Safety Center in Riyadh. He will present the topic, ‘Transforming Patient Safety: Emphasis on the Role of Leadership’, under the quality in healthcare conference track at the Global Health Exhibition in Saudi Arabia on October 31. 
Much more awaits at the Global Health Exhibition in Riyadh this year. Register now to learn, network, and lead your business and practice into a revolutionary healthcare market. 
This article appears in the latest issue of the Omnia Health Magazine, read more here
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