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Posted on 24.05.2012

The safety of patients: what role for the EU?

The current situation for patient safety is alarming in Member States. It is estimated that 37,000 deaths occur in Europe each year from preventable infections acquired while receiving treatment. Yet, this figure published by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), could very well be a low estimate as Member States differ in their measurements of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), often in how frequently data is collected, for which infections data is collected and how data on infections is reported. This is of particular importance because when we talk about patient safety, we often do not have comparable information to really understand what the state of patient safety in Europe truly is. That is to say, we do not always know which healthcare settings are safe when we seek care.

By David Byrne Former EU Health Commissioner and Patron of Health First Europe