Two Champions at an Italian Conference

On 28 May 2010 a conference was held in Florence on  “Together to improve  the quality of care and patient safety”. It  brings together clinicians, health care administrators, patients, representatives of patients organizations, citizens committed to patient safety, the Assessore Regionale (Tuscany) for Healthcare and two politicians from the Italian Parliament.
It was stated that patient safety is  now the crucial issue for medicine, as also resulted from the Eurobarometer Survey.
It was  agreed that communication between patients and medical staff is the base for common successful cooperation. Some patients said that  to improve the quality of health means to empower patients and families, and some others suggested the importance to make public i.e. the number of surgical interventions made in a hospital/ from a surgeon and how many were successful. Patients also stressed the need of more time during  the medical visits, to have more opportunities to ask  doctors  all the questions they think important, and mostly  doctors to have time to answer properly.
We  were  invited to Florence to tell more about PFPS action. It was great to have a chance to speak up about us, about  what PFPS Champions are doing globally, about how PFPS has been probably one of the most important and innovative initiative in healthcare, for its potential to really make medicine safer  and more accountable through a true patients involvement and participation.
Speakers invited to this meeting presented what is now done in patient safety in Italy – there were some thoughts from Gian Franco Gensini, dean of the University of Medicine of Florence, prof. Berni from Regional Federation of the Surgeon Medical Association. Riccardo Tartaglia, Director of the Centre for CRM Tuscany Region presented statistic data about Europe according patient safety. A survey carried out on behalf of European Commission shows that more than  ¾ of Europeans consider medical errors an important issue, but only ¼ have come across them personally. Among the most distrust as far as hospitals and doctors go are the polish.
78 % of the surveyed in Eurobarometer Survey stated that medical errors were an important problem, but only 23% admitted that they had experienced a medical error personally or in their family and less than half (40 %) were afraid  that they would be faced with such a problem. The majority of Europeans (69%) trust doctors. However, almost half consider it probable that a serious medical error can be committed at hospital.
Eurobarometer Survey indicates a wide gap in perceiving the problem of medical errors by citizens of particular member countries. The Austrian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Estonian fear medical errors the least. On the other hand, the surveyed from Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Cyprus stated that medical errors were an important problem in their country. The survey indicates that inhabitants of these countries are more often afraid of medical errors and have less trust in doctors not committing such a mistake.
Among the surveyed Poles 91 % were convinced that medical errors were a serious problem in their country nowadays. Nevertheless, only 28 % had come across it personally or among their family members. However, only one in the three (34 %) trusts that a doctor will not commit an error and half are afraid that they will fall victim to an error while in hospital. 
All authorities agree that communication between patients and medical staff is the base for common successful cooperation. To improve the quality of health it is also needed a better education and awareness for patients and families. Some patients who were there and also patients representatives suggested that if somebody in hospital should decide for operation he or she should know more about the doctor – for example how many operation has this doctor done, how many were successful how many not. It was stressed that patients have not small time to speak with the doctor about treatment, about results , taking medicine etc. There were also doctor in this room, so they replied yes we want to share our knowledge as much as possible with patients but we have so many people to treat, sometimes half hour for neurology patient is not enough.
All the time discussion between all parties was hot, some politicians from Parliamentary Commission and from Senate  invited to present their point of view  tried to convince that the main subject is that patients are not courage to ask medical staff  – to wash hands for example.
I and Silvana Simi  – we were  invited to Florence to tell more about PFPS WHO initiatives according to patient safety. It was good to have a chance to speak more about us, what are doing patients champions in the World, how we communicate, how we have done network to fulfill  our tasks. After lunch break during round table participants decided about five national objectives to improve quality of care and patient safety.

Jolanta Bilinska and Silvana Simi

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