International Patient Safety Day

15 September 2017. The focus of this year's International Patient Safety Day, to be held on 17th September 2017, is: "If silence is dangerous – communication in the healthcare system". This International Patient Safety Day was declared by the German Coalition for Patient Safety and its international partner organisations. Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe is patron of the German Coalition for Patient Safety.

Patients rightly expect high-quality and safe care. With the hygiene promotion program for hospitals, the right to an independent, second medical opinion and the introduction of medication plans, we have taken important steps towards strengthening patient safety on the whole. We must persist in these joint efforts to achieve greater patient safety. In order to continue to improve care, and avoid errors, we need to go further and improve communication among all parties involved in patient care, the patients themselves and their relatives. And we must also continue to improve health-related knowledge among the population. Indeed, only a well-informed person will be able to avoid health risks and, in the event of illness, contribute to the success of his or her treatment through personal behaviour. In founding the Alliance for Health Competence, all of the parties involved in healthcare committed to strengthening health-related knowledge in Germany.

Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe

'Above all, do no harm’ is one of the oldest and most important principles of medical treatment. All of today's technical innovations notwithstanding, what we need above all is successful communication. This applies to the communication between the patient and the physician, and equally to the communication among physicians, the nursing staff and the technical health professions. We can do much to benefit patient safety if we manage to create an even better climate, on all of these levels, that allows for questions to be asked and both doubts and errors to be openly discussed. To this end, everyone who is involved in the treatment process can make a contribution. However, it is predominantly in those places where several, or even many, persons participate in the treatment process that management staff are called upon to create the necessary prerequisites.

Federal Government Commissioner for Patients' Affairs and Delegatee for Long-term Care Ingrid Fischbach

As a means of improving the physician-patient dialogue, the Federal Ministry of Health funded the drawing up of a model syllabus for "Communication in Medicine", within the framework of the National Cancer Plan. The syllabus teaches students, throughout their entire medical studies, the skills necessary to share their knowledge of diagnosis and treatment comprehensibly, to be responsive to the questions posed by patients and relatives, and to provide patients with the requisite support throughout their course of treatment. A corresponding model syllabus is currently being created for nursing care.

Furthermore, the Independent Patient Counselling Services for Germany were expanded and strengthened by increasing the annual available funding from 5.2 to 9 million euros. The Independent Patient Counselling Services offer free counselling in health matters, as well as in the legal aspects of health matters. As a result, patients now have well-informed persons they can contact, even outside the framework of their medical treatment.

Thanks to the Hospital Structures Act, in future, patients will be better able to acquaint themselves with the quality of the services offered by a specific hospital. In the future, too, the quality reports published by the hospitals will contain a section providing patients with comprehensible information, particularly on patient safety, the observance of hygienic standards and the staffing of specialised departments. Plainly speaking, this means that patients will be better able to compare the quality of different hospitals.

Moreover, the Federal Ministry of Health commissioned the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care to devise a concept for a National Health Portal by 2018. The purpose of the portal would be to collect trustworthy, scientifically proven and independent health-related information in one place.

Given that the topic of patient safety is also of international significance, and that patients all over the world need to be sure that they will receive good and safe care, the Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, together with his British colleague in office, Jeremy Hunt, took the opportunity at the Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety, held in Bonn in March 2017, to successfully advocate in favour of adding 17th September to the list of international United Nations (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO) action days.