Healthcare workers sacrifice lives for safety of patients

Dr Ahmad Al-Shatti

KUWAIT: The world is joining forces against the coronavirus pandemic which has emerged as one of the major challenges facing health sectors, while frontline health care workers are sacrificing their lives trying to preserve safety of patients. As the globe celebrates the World Patient Safety Day tomorrow, the world is attempting to include the public in maintaining safety of patients by abiding by medical principles aimed at preserving wellbeing of people.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Health (MoH) “remembers with pride its heroes at the frontlines regardless of their positions and specialties,” Dr Ahmad Al-Shatti, Director of Ahmadi Medical Area, said. The MoH also remembers members of medical teams who lost their lives while doing their utmost best to provide care for COVID-19 patients, he added.

Highlighting an important factor, Dr Shatti said the safety principle applied to health care workers and patients. “The safety of health care workers and patients is equally important because it is an integral part of the quality of the service the society seeks,” he added. Risks facing health care workers are “many and very complicated than many can imagine,” he said. It is more than wearing a stethoscope, he added.”

There are professional risks like exposure to radiation or chemicals like (inhaling) anesthetic gas, or motion-related risks like back pain or falling on the floor, or psychological risks like depression, professional anxiety and excessive working hours, in addition to biological risks and recently COVID-19,” said Dr Shatti who also mentioned AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis and meningitis. “All these factors affect health service and practice,” he said.

The MoH, added Dr Shatti, celebrates the occasion every year and has the ‘Safety Star’ award which aimed at promoting quality and safety of health services. The MoH marks this year’s event with a slogan ‘Safety health service provider means safe patient,’ he said. The World Health Organization (WHO) decided, in a document, to focus on patients’ safety for the next 10 years with aim of addressing shortcomings related to health care and clinical practices.

WHO, said Dr Shatti, advised health authorities around the world to further promote safety of health care workers particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The working environment is crucial, he said, and it risks infections amidst limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other protective means. The WHO document, he noted, aimed at reducing risks against patients to zero as well as clinical measures’ safety, establish more connections with patients and their families, knowledge and research. “Patients and their families are partners in health care,” he said.

WHO said the overall objectives of World Patient Safety Day were to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm. The origin of the occasion is firmly grounded in the fundamental principle of medicine – First, do no harm.

The COVID-19 pandemic is presently among the biggest challenges and threats to face the world and humanity, and health care is living its greatest crisis in patient safety ever. The pandemic has exerted unprecedented pressure on health systems worldwide. Health systems can only function with health workers, and a knowledgeable, skilled and motivated health workforce is critical for the provision of safe care to patients. – KUNA