Millions of patients would benefit if healthcare workers could be made to wash their hands more often, identify their patients better, and not reuse old needles, the World Health Organization said as it launched a drive to cut down medical errors. The United Nations' agency said that medical mistakes affect one in 10 patients worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa as many as 18% of injections are given with reused syringes or unsterilised needles, WHO said.
The British chief medical officer, Dr Liam Donaldson, who is heading the agency's campaign, blamed the problem on complacency and announced nine recommendations, drafted by using feedback from experts from more than 100 countries. The agency recommended better hand hygiene for medical workers; proper patient identification, to guard against one person getting medicine intended for someone else or newborn babies being given to the wrong parents; and a ban on the reuse of needles.