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Press Release: Announcing WHO Designation of Collaborating Center

World Health Organization Partners with Joint Commission and Joint Commission International to Eliminate Medical Errors Worldwide

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Charlene D. Hill, Joint Commission

Agnès Leotsakos, WHO
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Collaboration signifies urgent need for patient safety solutions to address serious global issue

(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. – August 23, 2005) Recognizing that health care errors seriously harm one in every 10 patients around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is designating the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and Joint Commission International(JCI) as the world's first WHO Collaborating Centre dedicated solely to patient safety.  This action is aimed at reducing the unacceptably high numbers of serious medical injuries around the world each day.

"The most important knowledge in the field of patient safety is how to prevent harm from happening to patients during treatment and care," says Sir Liam Donaldson, M.D., Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety, who is in Washington, D.C., today to launch the Centre. "The belief that one day it may be possible for the clinical error suffered by a patient in one part of the world to be a source of transmitted learning that benefits future patients in many countries is a powerful force behind the work of the Collaborating Centre and the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety," says Sir Liam.

"Together, we can measurably strengthen and improve patient safety worldwide by spreading proven practices without regard to borders or other barriers that frequently exist in the international arena," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., President, Joint Commission. "This partnership should truly make a difference in improving the safety and, thereby, the quality of health care for people throughout the world."

The collaboration among The Joint Commission, JCI and WHO will focus worldwide attention on patient safety and best practices that can reduce safety risks to patients, and coordinate international efforts to spread these solutions as broadly as possible. This will be accomplished by collaborating internationally with ministries of health, patient safety experts, national agencies on patient safety, health care professional associations, and consumer organizations.

"Patient safety has made significant strides in some parts of the world during the past 10 years, thanks to a willingness to acknowledge that adverse events occur in health care and that a systematic approach must be employed to reduce the very real risk of patient harm," says Karen Timmons, CEO, JCI. "This collaboration among WHO, JCI and the Joint Commission offers new opportunities to identify and disseminate proven patient safety solutions, as well as to design and share innovative solutions to challenging patient safety issues facing health care organizations and practitioners in all countries."

The Joint Commission International Center for Patient Safety, which was launched earlier this year by the Joint Commission and JCI, will operationalize this effort by forging partnerships with leaders in both developing and developed countries to identify health care safety needs and match these with proven solutions and best practices.

"Patient safety is a worldwide problem affecting countries both rich and poor," says Mirta Roses, M.D., Regional Director, WHO Office for the Americas, who is participating in the launch of the Centre. "The Collaborating Centre will help to ensure that all countries can benefit from international work on solutions to patient safety problems."

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