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Times of India
20 April 2009
By Madhavi Rajadhyaksha
Mumbai,India

A mop left inside a patient’s stomach after a surgery, an expired drug administered to an ailing person or a hospital–acquired infection–medical errors are a nightmare for both doctors and patients. Such incidents, which are usually swept under the carpet, will now be recorded and reported to an independent body. This will be done in an attempt to streamline and improve the healthcare system.

The first step in this direction was taken on Sunday when a group of doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, patients’ groups and NGOs met at civic–run KEM Hospital to launch a patient safety initiative under the aegis of the World Health Organization’s “World Alliance for Patient Safety”, one of the first concerted efforts to deal with this issue.

“Till now, patient–doctor relations have hinged on a confrontationist we–versus–they approach. We are now trying to involve all stakeholders to improve the medical system from within,” said gynaecologist Nikhil Datar.

He pointed out that the western model, which was based on compensation laws and had led to doctors practising defensive medicine, had failed and it was time Indian doctors made a collaborative effort with patients to boost healthcare services.

Accordingly, the Indian Confederation for Healthcare Accreditation (ICHA), a non–profit organisation consisting of various associations, would spell out clear–cut healthcare standards, train employees of hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in spotting medical errors and adverse reactions as well as encourage them to report the same in order to create a “Desi” database.

“We want hospitals to report errors, even if it is done confidentially, so that we can identify problem areas and work on them. It won’t be a about a stamp of approval as much as a real effort to gain excellence in healthcare,” said Dr Akhil Sangal of the ICHA.

He cited the example of an initiative of voluntary reporting in the US, where bloodstream infections across hospitals were reduced by 66%.

The pan–India patient safety movement will be flagged off with Mumbai hospitals. Maharashtra has already taken the lead in the protection of patients by including a clause in a recently–approved ordinance protecting medical establishments against attacks.

The clause requires the government to set up a redressal committee for patients’ problems involving doctors, patient groups as well as government officials.

Dr Suhas Kate, president of the Association of Medical Consultants, told TOI that they had met additional chief secretary Chandra Iyengar last week to facilitate the setting up of a patient grievance redressal committee at the earliest

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