17 September 2022
Patient safety challenges – Medication without harm
World Patient Safety Day – 17 September 2022
The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) plays a key role in applying standards for the improvement of the quality and safety of healthcare services in both the public and private health sectors in the country. The Health Ombud, located within the OHSC, also contributes to safe, quality care by investigating complaints concerning sub-standard care.
South Africa and the world will on 17 September, commemorate World Patient Safety Day. Medication safety has been selected as the global theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022, with the slogan ‘Medication Without Harm’.
Unsafe medication practices and medication errors drove the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare World Patient Safety Day 2022. According to WHO, unsafe medication practices and medication errors are leading causes of avoidable harm in healthcare across the world. Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions, or staff shortages affect and compromise the safety of the medication use process. This can result in severe patient harm, disability, and even death.
The OHSC uses a set of prescribed norms and standards regulations to monitor compliance in both the public and private health establishments. These standards for quality improvement are in line with OHSC’s mandate for ensuring consistent, safe, and quality healthcare for all in both the public and private health sectors.
Standards enforced by the OHSC, are designed for the following aspects of healthcare provision in health establishments:
▪ Rights of clinic users – The provision of information to users on health services and health matters; ensuring access to care.
▪ Clinical governance and clinical care – The maintenance of full health records of patients and good management of these records, including secure storage; clinical management, which includes the use of national guidelines for dealing with various health conditions; and safe management of medical waste.
▪ Clinical support services – The availability of essential medicines and medical supplies, diagnostic services, blood services and essential medical equipment.
▪ Facilities and Infrastructure – Management of buildings and grounds, engineering services (such as water and power supply), clinic transport and security services.
▪ Governance and human resources – The existence of a functioning clinic committee, the management of human resources, and adherence to occupational health and safety measures.
The clinic committees referred to above are health governance structures legislated by the National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003) (NHA) and created to provide an avenue for communities to give input and feedback on the planning, delivery and organization of health services and play an oversight role in the development and implementation of health policies and provision of equitable health services.
As a regulator of quality and safety, the OHSC conducts compliance inspections, investigate complaints, enforce compliance as well as certifies health establishments found compliant with the required norms and standards regulations. The inspections conducted by OHSC are aimed at ensuring that health establishments across various levels of care comply with the legislated prescribed norms and standards.
The OHSC is required to monitor indicators of risk as part of its early warning system (EWS) to identify serious breaches of norms and standards for the safety of health users and health workers. As part of its mandate of consistent, safe, and quality healthcare for all, recommendations for improvement in the healthcare sector are made by OHSC to health authorities based on the analysis of the annual returns submitted by health establishments.
All health establishments, either the public or private health sector are required to comply with policy priorities like safety and security, waiting times, drug availability, staff attitude, infection prevention and control as well as the minimum standards of care in terms of the regulation of the quality of health services.
As we commemorate World Patient Safety Day, the OHSC reiterate the significant of achieving quality standards that will contribute to improving the South African health system and improving the quality and safety of the services provided in health establishments. Upholding quality standards and ensuring safety benefits both users and healthcare providers by creating an environment in which risks are minimized and positive results enhanced.
The OHSC performs its functions independently, impartially, fairly, and fearlessly on behalf of healthcare users. The constitutional rights of healthcare users to access health services is reaffirmed by the NHA. Any user can lay a complaint about the way they were treated at a health establishment.
Issued by the Office of Health Standards Compliance
For more information contact: Ricardo Mahlakanya: at 066 473 8666, and email@example.com