Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New WHO/Europe publication: Exploring patient participation in reducing health care related risks


Patients’ rights have been formulated in a number of documents and guidelines from various international bodies. Laws and declarations on patients’ rights do not automatically make health care safer, but can help to empower patients. Empowered patients are in a better position to manage their own health and health care and to participate in efforts to improve safety. The report presents an overview of legal aspects influencing patient safety and describes examples of patient involvement. It highlights the need to strengthen a continuum of information between various levels of care, including patient experiences, health literacy and engagement. The work is expected to contribute to the wider process of evidence collation aimed at finding efficient ways to build realistic and informed expectations of health care, while encouraging patients to be vigilant and knowledgeable to ensure maximum safety standards. Recommendations are formulated with respect to the macro, meso and micro levels of health service delivery.

Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Regional Director, WHO/Europe highlights:


Health is a social value and an individual right. It generates economic benefits for countries and is a prerequisite for national development and individual well-being. Member States of the WHO European Region are addressing major health challenges posed by demographic and epidemiological change, widening socioeconomic disparities, limited resources, technological developments and rising public expectations. Evidence continues to show that addressing the quality and safety of care is one of the main entry points to strengthening health services and contributing to wider population access and coverage.

Regulation and targeted interventions focused on health service redesign are necessary, but not sufficient, to ensuring increased quality, better compliance with safety standards and a well-trained health workforce. Health technology assessments provide evidence of the clinical and  cost−effectiveness of new operational tools and a wealth of information on health and health-related interventions and technologies is currently available for policy-makers, health professionals and the general public. Accurate understanding of this information can help patients and providers to prevent and cure disease through increasing treatment compliance and enabling recognition of safety failures in systems.

The new WHO European policy framework, Health 2020, supports action across government and society for health and well-being and emphasizes the role of good health in ensuring economic and social development. The capacity of each individual to contribute to improving his or her health status should drive effective dialogue with health professionals and create mechanisms for increasing safety and improving compliance with prevention and care interventions.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe is committed to supporting investment in health to address current and future challenges in maintaining and increasing the health status of populations, working in collaboration with national and international partners within the WHO global patient safety strategic framework. In this context, participation of the healthliterate patient is seen as being at the core of the whole-of-society approach to better health that we promote.
If you would like to read and download the full report, please visit WHO/Europe website:



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