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World Patient Safety Day and Patient Safety - History

When was the first World Patient Safety Day and who started it?


The first World Patient Safety Day was established in May 2019 at the 72nd World Health Assembly (the governing body of WHO) through a resolution on enhancing patient safety worldwide. This was the continuation of a major campaign since 2016 involving ministers and health departments of various countries.


The previous themes for World Patient Safety Days include:


  • 2019: Patient Safety: A Global Health Priority
  • 2020: Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety
  • 2021: Safe and Respectful Maternal and Newborn Care
  • 2022: Medication Safety: Medication without harm


The History of Patient Safety:


  • 2005 - 2010: Safer drug management initiatives
  • 2009: WHO Surgical Safety Checklist
  • 2005-2015: Safer communication, teamwork, and coordination
  • Around 2015, we realized that patient safety is becoming more complex as we tackle a rapid change in the issues and complexity of the healthcare system.
  • Healthcare systems are transforming at unprecedented levels - In less than 20 years, the world's population has climbed from 6 to 7.78 billion (+25%). Nearly 20% of additional patients are more chronic and more fragile.
  • Hospitals and Healthcare Systems have not changed at the same speed. The knowledge and technology of care have evolved at a high speed but not the task force and human resources.
  • Signs of Progress are made at zero cost - The GDP per capita for medical affairs cannot change that much since it was already high before the last quality revolution
  • Medical workers are affected by these constant changes, continuously being pushed to adapt.
  • It poses a greater challenge for quality and safety since these dimensions allow only change for the better and do not allow for compromise or adaptation.

The Key Changes from 2015:


  • Marked by a cascade effect on the conceptual approach to Quality and Safety
  • The need to move from a primarily event-focussed acute quality control system to a longitudinal treatment life-course perspective
  • Profound consequences on how we conceptualize safety and quality and re-prioritize human factors through:
    • Safety is no longer described in terms of episodic risk suppression but in terms of controlling acceptable risk over time in both the short and the long term
    • Solutions for optimizing Quality & Medical efficiency (proposing the best of medical knowledge) are not equal to solutions optimizing Safety (controlling risks in a greater variety of medical settings, including small isolated hospitals, home care, and community care).
    • A need to re-conceptualize the very nature and use of Quality and Safety standards of the 21st century, their interpretation and role in system changes and progress, and all related human factor priorities.


The half-life of medical knowledge now is below 6 years in most specialties, it is 17 years for nuclear, and 13 years for aviation. The closest is the software industry at 2.6 years.


The Move to Patient Journey


  • Change in time scale: We no longer focus on a specific part of the care like primary care. We envision the whole process from the start to the end of care for the patient.
  • New Focus:
    • The transition of Care: How care is being delivered in various environments the patient navigates during the course of the illness from home to the different departments and back to home, perhaps. The way we are passing the information and coordinating all carers in the patient journey in time scales than may span years is a view we are slowly beginning to take
    • Primary care & Homecare: Focus on these areas apart from improving safety in hospitals alone
    • Adopt a system vision: This 360-degree focus is ensuring that we see the whole system together while planning and implementing changes.












Medanta Medical Team
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