Setting the EU patient safety and quality agenda for 2014

On 14 February, the Commission Patient Safety and Quality of Care Working Group met for the first time this year to develop the EU patient safety and quality agenda for 2014. This Group brings together representatives from all 27 EU countries, EFTA countries, international organisations and EU bodies.

Reporting and learning systems as well as the education of health professionals have featured prominently on the 2013- 2014 work plan of the group. Two sub-groups were established in November of last year to draft recommendations on reporting and learning systems and education of health professionals, which were identified as gaps in the implementation of the 2009 Council Recommendation. EPF contributed to both of these groups.

The draft report of the reporting and learning subgroup, led by Denmark, identified patients and family reporting as an area where there is still little experience in Member States. It would be useful to share experiences from those countries where patients and families have been given the opportunity to report patient safety incidents.

Direct patient reporting in pharmacovigilance (medicines safety monitoring) has shown that patient reporting increases over time as awareness grows, and the quality of patient reports has been equal to that of health professionals. In many cases, they provide a richer descriptive element that can be an important learning resource.

The second subgroup led by Poland, analysed education and training of healthcare workers. EPF recommends that the draft report should include a mapping of patient involvement and innovative practices, such as using patient stories as a learning tool, and request further information from Member States that have experience of using such innovative tools.

The draft reports from both sub-groups will be approved at the next meeting of the entire working group, which will take place in March. They will be published during the second quarter of the year, along with the European Commission’s second implementation report on patient safety.

Other discussions included a presentation from the European Medicines Agency on its work on medication errors and pharmacovigilance; and a discussion on the possible role of European standards in the area of health services. The latter was presented by speakers from DG enterprise and CEN (European Committee for Standardization) and inspired quite a lively exchange on the pros and cons of standardisation. A further discussion will take place in March.

The agenda, minutes and presentations of the working group will be published online here:

For more information, please contact EPF Senior Policy Adviser Kaisa Immonen-Charalambous