26.02.2020 We need to reinforce patient safety on all levels

At first hand. People who go into hospital for treatment trust that it is a safe place and that they will hopefully leave the hospital healthier and, above all, unharmed. But sometimes reality paints a different picture: roughly every tenth patient suffers an adverse event while he or she is in hospital. These events include medication errors and hospital infections, for example. Half of them could be avoided.

Pictures We need to reinforce patient safety on all levels


They are often caused by many hospitals not enforcing safety measures strictly enough. The safety culture in Swiss hospitals needs to be pursued more actively, and it must encompass all disciplines and levels of hierarchy. Adverse events must be reported systematically.
The first national report on quality and patient safety in the health service, published recently by us, shows that there is a need for action elsewhere too. For example, a comparison with other European countries shows that there are too few indicators to measure quality and safety. It is not possible to assess the quality of care in Switzerland adequately using the existing monitoring systems.

We want to bring about improvements in this area and insist more forcefully on the implementation of measures. The partial revision of the Health Insurance Act that was passed by Parliament last June provides us with the legal foundation and the financial resources for this.

However, the federal government has already taken action. Specific measures are currently being implemented as part of two national strategies – NOSO and StAR – to reduce the number of nosocomial infections and counter the development of resistance.

We are also underlining our international involvement by organising the 5th Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety. Internationally recognised experts and the health ministers of several dozen countries will meet in Montreux on 27/28 February 2020 to discuss the sustainable implementation of established practices and tools for improving patient safety.


Note: Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the ministerial meeting had to be cancelled at short notice. You can find more information here.


Pascal Strupler
Federal Office of Public Health

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