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WHO calls for 'culture of patient safety'

By Shan Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-15 07:36

The World Health Organization has urged China to cultivate a culture of patient safety in healthcare delivery after the country reported medical malpractice that led to five HIV infections.

The China office of the United Nations health agency delivered the message after the top health authority ordered on Monday a nationwide overhaul of medical security as part of the response to the incident in Zhejiang province.

Agencies and individuals involved in the incident will be held accountable, according to an online statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

At least five people were infected with HIV after a technician at Zhejiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital reused pipettes on separate patients, the provincial health commission said on Thursday.

On the same day, media reported the results of an investigation into the improper handling of medical equipment in Qingdao, Shandong province, which led to patients being infected with hepatitis B.

In both cases, the top health authority sent investigation teams to work with local authorities to assess the scope of the situation and identify measures to prevent future occurrences.

A criminal investigation into the matter in Zhejiang is underway. Law experts said health workers causing death or severe harm to patients' health due to negligence face up to three years in prison.

The WHO said that an appropriate response must go beyond investigation and punitive measures.

"Cultivating a culture of patient safety in healthcare delivery is critical," it said.

But a culture of patient safety goes beyond incident reporting. It is also reflected in budgetary decisions to supply sufficient quantities of safety equipment, invest in training and appropriately allocate qualified staff relative to workload, the WHO added.

The Zhejiang incident was first reported to the provincial commission on Jan 26 and made public on Feb 9.

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