Why was this year’s World Patient Safety Day focused on maternity care?

Although World Patient Safety Day passed us by a few months ago, it is still important to reflect on this year’s targets and their progress as 2021 slowly draws to a close. The theme chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year was ‘safe maternal and new-born care’.  It was given the emotive strapline ‘act now for safe and respectful childbirth’ urging all stakeholders in healthcare to increase their efforts to reduce preventable harm to mothers and their babies worldwide. However, in a world still recovering from Coronavirus, why was this year’s patient safety theme centred on maternity care?

The short answer is that maternity care is one of the riskiest areas in healthcare.  Lots of things can go wrong, and quickly. In addition, healthcare practitioners are responsible for multiple lives at once, and sometimes face the difficult choice of prioritising one over another. Data from the WHO emphasises the dangers of maternity care, with research showing that 810 women and 6,700 new-borns die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The causes of these deaths are often attributed to a few factors, such as low staffing levels, the use of old or broken equipment and the increasing medicalisation of birth (whereby women are given medical treatments such as anaesthetic during birth).

As we approach the end of the year, we should strive not to forget the challenges that expectant mothers, their babies and the healthcare workers who assist them continue to face. Five targets have been set by the WHO in the hope that improvements in maternal and new-born care are made in the long term. These are:

  1. Reduce practices that are unnecessary and harmful to women and new-borns during childbirth
  2. Strengthen capacity and support of health workers for safe maternal and new-born care
  3. Promote respectful care for safe childbirth
  4. Improve safe use of medication and blood transfusion during childbirth
  5. Report and analyse safety incidents in childbirth

The final goal, which focuses on the analysis of safety incidents, can be monitored by intelligent technology. Verita has developed some technology which could do that, which we have called Eva. Built on the NHS’ contributory factors framework, Eva allows the user to pinpoint the causes of a patient safety incident and share the findings across an organisation. In this way, common risk factors can be identified and reduced. To learn more about Eva, do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7494 5676 or via email at: [email protected].

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