World Patient Safety Day: History, Theme and Commemoration

Dr. Jay Mehta

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jay Mehta

General Physician

7 min read


World Patient Safety Day addresses one of the most crucial aspects of healthcare delivery involving patient safety due to human factors. The article discusses its origin, aim, and objectives while describing the events conducted on the fixed 17 September every year in tandem with similar health campaigns. 

Key Takeaways

  • World Patient Safety Day highlights the concerns of medication errors causing over one million annual fatalities
  • It is an awareness campaign and one among eleven similar campaigns
  • The World Patient Safety Day slogan for 2022 is “Medication without Harm.”

World Patient Safety Day is an annual event to raise awareness and encourage global intervention to ensure patient safety. The universally accepted definition of patient safety is ending avoidable errors and harmful practices in the healthcare system causing harm. In addition, the advent of technology, medicines, and treatment has further exacerbated patient safety concerns, needing concerted global efforts to prevent avoidable deaths.  

Observance of the day on 17 September worldwide helps prioritize patient safety and enhance understanding of their concerns. In addition, it increases public participation in healthcare and promotes global action to mitigate potential but avoidable harm to patients. So, let us learn about the topic in-depth as you read.  

History of World Patient Safety Day

The formal inauguration of World Patient Safety Day was in May 2019 with the adoption of the resolution WHA72.6, “Global action on patient safety,” by the World Health Assembly. The global campaign evolved during the annual GMSPS (Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety) conducted in 2016. Patient safety highlights the significance of reducing risks and medication errors harming patients.   

The concern about patient safety emerged with the growing healthcare complexities and a spurt in patient harm due to errors and complacency. Recent studies reveal nearly 134 million cases of patient harm after receiving medical care, which resulted in 2.6 million annual fatalities.[1] The situation was graver in low and middle-income nations than in high-income countries. But the turning point was the 1999 report titled “To Err is Human,” released by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to address the patient safety culture in the US healthcare system.  

So, World Patient Safety Day is among the eleven World Health Organization’s (WHO) global health campaigns. It strongly advocates commitment from international stakeholders to improve patient safety by adopting safe healthcare administration and practices. In addition, the movement supports directly engaging patients and caregivers in decision-making, ensuring transparency. Thus, the stakeholders are aware of the options of diagnosis and treatment while delivering healthcare services. The following timeline illustrates the long historical journey of World Patient Safety Day.  

World Patient Safety Day Timeline 
Year Event 
1948 Establishment of the World Health Assembly as the highest health-policy-making body 
2015 The German Coalition strongly advocates the creation of World Patient Safety Day. 
2016 The first ever conduct of the Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety. 
2019 World Patient Safety Day sees the light of the day. 

World Patient Safety Day

The Significance of World Patient Safety Day

Every person needs medical treatment and medicines at some point in life, but they are not always harmless due to storage, dosage, dispensing errors, or under scarce monitoring. The leading cause of worldwide patient suffering is unsafe medical practices and medication during healthcare delivery due to several human factors. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the crisis of medical errors. The following facts are revealing to gauge the situation’s gravity.  

  1. According to WHO, over one million fatalities occur annually during or after surgery.
  2. Unsafe care affects about two million people every year.
  3. One in every 300 patients suffers harm while receiving healthcare services [2].
  4. Using skilled professionals and a supportive environment to deliver safe care can reduce the incidence of infant mortality and stillbirth.
  5. Patient harm is comparable to malaria and tuberculosis as a global disease burden and is ranked 14th on the list. 

In the above context, the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022 is “Medication Safety,” and the campaign slogan is “Medication without Harm.” 

Additional Read: Medical Insurance for Parents 

So, what does World Patient Safety Day aim to deliver in 2022? Let us find out.  

Improve healthcare delivery

The primary aim of creating Day is to educate the public about the risks involved in ignoring patient safety. Consequently, it should establish community and patient programs to improve and streamline healthcare delivery.

Drive government action

The Day observances remind world governments to initiate proactive steps to ensure patient safety. Moreover, governments must devise strategies for managing patient safety risks to improve delivery significantly.

Encourage collaboration

Various events to observe World Patient Safety Day across countries are the unifying factor for forming partnerships between governments and local and international organizations. As a result, they can work together to improve global healthcare, creating a practical impact.  

What is the World Patient Safety Day Theme? 

The origin of World Patient Safety Day lies in the elemental principle of medicine – “First, do no harm.” So a new theme is selected every year to prioritize the issue to address with urgent action. Therefore, the theme for World Safety Day 2022 is appropriate, “Medication safety,” with the campaign slogan “Medication without Harm.” 

The basis is that unsafe medication practices and errors are the leading cause of patient safety issues globally, which can harm the patient severely, including disability and death. The reason for such a healthcare burden is a combination of environmental, logistics, and human errors. So the theme building on the challenge to deliver “Medication without Harm” provides the necessary impetus for urgent action. Thus, it reduces medication-related perils by strengthening the medication systems and practices.  

What are the World Patient Safety Day Objectives? 

  1. RAISE awareness globally about the high incidence of medication-related risk due to errors and harmful practices, and ADVOCATE urgent steps to improve patient safety.  
  2. ENGAGE critical stakeholders and partners to prevent medication errors and reduce patient harm due to medication 
  3. EMPOWER patients and their families to pursue safety while using medications 
  4. SCALE UP execution of the “WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication without Harm” theme.  

World Patient Safety Day Commemoration

  • WHO will observe the World Patient Safety Day 2022 by organizing a series of webinars on medication safety measures and promoting solutions and related technical products.  
  • “WHO” will host a global virtual event besides various activities close to World Patient Safety Day 2022. 
  • The celebration’s high point will illuminate the Jet d’ Eau in Geneva in orange. 
  • WHO also encourages member states and partners to participate in the global campaign, pledge, and implement.    

Besides organizing events, member states must light up iconic structures and monuments in orange in solidarity with medication safety.   

World Patient Safety Day objectives

What Other Campaigns Impact Global Healthcare Delivery? 

The creation of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 7 April 1948 during the United Nations conference has been a landmark in tackling global healthcare issues. Besides, WHO has been working on the following: 

  • Availability of clean air, water, and food across societies 
  • Where cities and villages are livable with the people in control of the planet’s health and theirs.  
  • Where economies support focused healthcare and well-being.

World Health Day 2022

The world celebrates the anniversary of WHO as World Health Day on 7 April. Its significance is enormous, particularly during the raging pandemic and the planet grappling with increasing pollution. Besides drawing global attention to the increase in diseases like cancer, asthma, and cardiac issues, the day focuses on critical actions needed for solutions. Thus, WHO aims to keep humans and the earth healthy while nursing societies focus on their well-being.

World Marrow Donor Day

World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD) falls on the third Saturday of September, so the date in 2022 is the 17th, which coincides with World Patient Safety Day 2022. World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) and the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) are the primary international endorsers of the day. The main objective of observing the days is to thank all the donors and educate the public about the benefits of stem-cell transplantation therapy. 

World Suicide Prevention Day

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) sponsors the annual event on 10 September with the WHO’s endorsement. The event’s primary aim is to encourage global commitment to suicide prevention. So, the theme for WSPD for 2022 is “Creating hope through action.”

World Blood Donor Day

The 14 June World Blood Donor Day expresses solidarity with the volunteers who save lives by donating blood. So, the 2022 slogan is appropriate “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.” Besides thanking the donors on World Blood Donor Day, the campaign urges increased government participation to create a sustainable national blood system.  

Additional Read: World Health Day 2022

The role of WHO in addressing global health issues has been a game changer in managing diseases worldwide and making the planet more livable by raising environmental issues. Moreover, the ongoing pandemic further strengthened the resolve for global action in managing unknown medical conditions and overcoming them with sustained activities. And health campaigns like World Patient Safety Day focus on erroneous medication practices impacting patients across countries. So, count on your one-stop destination Bajaj Finserv Health to provide you with valuable insights into various global health concerns.

Published on 16 Sep 2022Last updated on 22 Dec 2022

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Jay Mehta

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jay Mehta

, MBBS 1 , MD - General Medicine 3



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