Zero Preventable Deaths in Hospitals by 2020 – ESA Commitment to the Patient Safety Movement

Zero Preventable Deaths in Hospitals by 2020 – ESA Commitment to the Patient Safety Movement

  • Issue 71

Jannicke Mellin-Olsen, ESA Secretary

Have you ever been in a situation with a preventable death of a patient under your care? If no, then you have not been in the game long enough. If yes, then you will know that affected patients, relatives, and health personnel all share the same interest: “This should never happen again.” If the lessons from these disasters are not used to improve the system, then the failure is more than doubled.

As health personnel, we anaesthesiologists know a lot about system flaws, and many of us have spoken up. It is hard to change a whole system on one’s own – it is so huge and complex with so many stakeholders.

ESA decided to join forces with the Patient Safety Movement (PSM), a non-profit organization with a goal of ZERO preventable deaths by 2020. Although this may be an impossible goal, we also stand with the PSM because one preventable patient death is too many. The PSM originated in the United States, but is rapidly spreading internationally. The Movement is unique in that it involves all stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem, including health care personnel, patients and relatives, politicians and policy makers, hospital leaders, healthcare technology companies, and other committed partners. Together, they identify the problems, create solutions, and work to implement them.

An important part of the strategy is to implement Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) all across healthcare. All 13 APSS can be viewed here:

  1. Creating a Culture of Safety
  2. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)
  3. Medication Errors
  4. Failure to Rescue: Monitoring for Opioid Induced Respiratory Depression
  5. Anaemia and Transfusion: A Patient Safety Concern
  6. Hand-off Communications
  7. Neonatal Safety
  8. Airway Safety
  9. Early Detection and Treatment of Sepsis
  10. Optimal Resuscitation
  11. Optimising Obstetric Safety
  12. Venous Thromboembolism
  13. Mental Health: Access to Acute Psychiatric Beds

Leaders of the healthcare ecosystem come together each year at the PSM’s annual Midyear Planning Meeting to brainstorm and vote on new APSS that are crucial to improve patient safety. We can use the suggested solutions as they are, or adapt them to our own environment.

Five more APSS were selected in July at this year’s Midyear Planning Meeting, some of them proposed by ESA.

ESA announced our commitment at the annual PSM Summit earlier this year (tick the filter box for Saturday). Now is the time to act as we preach. The ESA Secretary is currently functioning as a Regional Chair for Europe, but it is impossible for ESA centrally to implement the programme in all countries. Therefore, we need more ESA members to join forces with us. If you are interested, contact

ESA has announced that we will demonstrate our commitment to the PSM by:

  1. Spreading the PSMF mission to ESA members and National Societies of Anaesthesiologists.
  2. Providing tools, including scientific and political support, to implement the “Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology” in all European anaesthesiology departments and monitor the implementation and progression.
  3. Annually disseminating Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) to ESA members.
  4. Asking members working in hospitals to implement APSS or their own process to eliminate preventable deaths, and make commitments to action to reduce preventable patient deaths in hospitals.

The ESA record of patient safety activities in Europe started long before we committed to the PSMF and reach beyond this commitment. We reached a major milestone in 2010, when the European Board of Anaesthesiology and ESA launched the “Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology”. Since then, ESA has been very active. For instance, we cooperate with other organisations and deliver courses, master classes, and scientific lectures on patient safety in anaesthesiology. We have developed practical tools for implementation. The much acclaimed Patient Safety Tool Kit was launched in 2013. Read about ESA Patient Safety and Quality. Recently, ESA has been developing the “Helsinki Declaration Follow-Up Project”, with support from our industry partners Fresenius Kabi, Masimo, Nihon Kohden, and Philips. This project will explore the actual implementation of the HDPS recommendations into clinical practice. In addition, it will help to create tools to improve implementation and ultimately patient safety in anaesthesiology.

Meanwhile, we encourage all ESA members to get involved and start working. You might also be interested in attending the 6th Annual World Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit on 23-24 February 2018. The Summit will be organised outside of the US for the first time in London, UK. It will be co-convened by the UK Department of Health. Sign up for Summit updates if you are interested in attending: