Ahead of World Patient Safety Day on 9 December, South Africans are urged to become more involved in ensuring that their medical treatment is safe and has the desired outcomes. Medical Director and Chief Scientific Officer at Novartis South Africa, Dr Nicola Lister, says there is a great deal patients can do to improve their own safety.
Patient awareness, communication and reporting of any adverse effects of medication are all areas where patients can do more to ensure that their treatment is safe and effective.
Many patients fail to read the medication package inserts, and many do not report any side effects they experience (whether expected or unexpected) to their healthcare providers. By reading the information they are given by their healthcare providers, adhering to the dosage instructions, acquainting themselves with the package inserts, asking questions about the treatment, and by reporting any side effects, patients empower doctors to deliver more effective treatment and help drug manufacturers to ensure that products are as safe and effective as possible.
Novartis has robust pharmacovigilance systems in place for adverse event reporting, in line with international requirements. However, spontaneous reporting is a crucial part of ensuring that our global detection systems pick up any safety issues with products. Patient safety is enhanced by communication between physicians, pharmacists and patients on how the medication should be taken and what side effects to expect. But it is also important that patients tell their doctors about any side effects they experience. This reporting contributes to more effective treatment and safer drugs for all.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), describing patient safety as a fundamental principle of healthcare, has developed a Minimal Information Model for Patient Safety as a simple tool to facilitate the collection, analysis, comparison, sharing and global learning derived from adverse events.
This reporting and learning system was developed through the analysis of real adverse event data provided by multiple institutions and countries. In addition, WHO Guidelines on Patient Safety Incident Reporting and Learning Systems are scheduled to be released towards the end of 2017.
According to the WHO: ‘This guidance will include key lessons learned from experiences within and outside healthcare, guidance on enhancing the reporting of incidents, including adverse events, near misses and errors in healthcare, capturing and aggregating data, assessing progress, engaging patients in reporting and learning, and translating data into meaningful action for better quality and safer care.’
Reporting tools and systems such as these can only be truly effective when accurate information is submitted. And in most cases, the most accurate information about side effects comes from the patients themselves. This is why it is important that patients communicate and report to their doctors and pharmacists. They can even report adverse effects directly to the pharmaceutical manufacturers, or even to the Health Authority, namely the Medicines Control Council in South Africa.
By reporting side effects for Novartis products you help us to ensure the safety of our products and of our patients. To do so, go to: https://psi.novartis.com/