Press Release

Minister Mary Harney T.D. participates in the Global Launch of the Second Global Patient Safety Challenge: “Safe Surgery Saves Lives”

The Minister for Health and Children , Mary Harney TD, reaffirmed the commitment to enhancing the safety of patients when she participated in the global launch today (Wednesday, 25th June 2008) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of The Second Global Patient Safety Challenge, Safe Surgery Saves Lives, in Washington DC. The Minister addressed the launch by video link from Dublin.

The initiative, led by the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety, aims to introduce a Surgical Safety Checklist to ensure the entire surgical team has a common understanding of the procedure and risk and a thorough knowledge of the patient. The concept of a checklist as a simple, effective safety tool has been well established in other healthcare settings such as Intensive Care and in other complex, high risk industries such as the aviation industry. The Surgical Safety Checklist is designed to be simple and widely applicable.

The Minister, speaking to the Global Launch by videolink from Dublin, warmly welcomed and endorsed the initiative and congratulated the WHO for its work on patient safety, which she said would make a major contribution to global public health. The Minister said , “this simple check list technique has the potential to ensure safer surgical care. It should ensure that patients undergo the right operation at the correct body site, with safe anaesthesia and appropriate infection control techniques through the achievement of improved knowledge and information and more effective teamwork”.

Sir Liam Donaldson, acting in his capacity as Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety congratulated the Minister on signing up to the Challenge on behalf of Ireland. He commented “The Global Patient Safety Challenge is a core element of the Alliance’s work. The support of Minister Harney and Ireland is an important contribution to the promotion of the message contained in the Challenge.”

The Surgical Safety Checklist was formally launched in Ireland by the Minister last week (Tuesday, 17th June 2008) at an event co-hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). National organisations and associations including Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, College of Anaesthetists, Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Irish Medical Organisation, Irish Nurses Organisation and Patient Focus endorsed the World Health Organisation’s Second Global Patient Safety Challenge; Safe Surgery Saves Lives.

Their signed letters of endorsement were formally presented to the World Health Organisation at the official launch in Washington today.