Should Patient Safety Practice Differ In A Multi-National Context?

Dear Colleague

At the recent Middle Eastern Summit on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, there were many presentations on the topic of improving patient safety.

We heard from the President and CEO of the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement) who talked about the importance of creating the best environment for patients to be looked after safely.

I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on this subject. We have an amazingly diverse workforce. At the last count there were staff from 104 countries working in HMC. 

Some of the standard patient safety approaches are based on establishing a culture where people feel free to speak up if they see something they’re worried about.

I think this is really important and I want to encourage everyone to do this. 

The reality is that with people from so many countries this can sometimes make speaking up more difficult. 

The question I’m asking is what can we do to encourage an atmosphere which supports staff who are worried about patient safety? I would be really interested to hear your suggestions about this.

I think there is a common language and a shared set of values which we all have when looking after patients. Patients can’t judge whether most of what we do is technically correct. Mostly they aren’t trained healthcare professionals – so they put their trust in us to do the right things.

What patients can judge is whether we are treating them with kindness. A single act of kindness can have a transformative – and healing effect.

My feeling is that if we want to create a safer environment for patients, it might be a good idea to start by being kinder to one another. The kinder we are with each other, the easier it is for us to be kind to our patients.

Creating a supportive and caring environment which we all experience, will make the business of speaking up when we’re worried feel not only the right thing to do – but the safer and ultimately kinder thing to do too.

I’ll close by wishing good health and happiness for you and your family for the week ahead.


What patient safety factors should we take account of when working in multi-national contexts?