Malaysia: Ministry of Health to Launch Patient Safety Council

In September 2004, the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed the details of the Patient Safety Council, which will go into effect within the next few months. The Council will address and resolve incidents of medical errors and help improve the overall patient safety and healthcare in Malaysia. Currently, the MOH has an incident reporting program, which monitors 30 different types of incidents at hospitals. This program examines such incidents as complications in the ICU, falls in the wards, adverse transfusion reactions and problems that occur to patients under anesthesia. However, these incidents are only monitored every six months and the program does not provide for ways to prevent and reduce these errors. The Patient Safety Council will allow for an overall evaluation and improvement of patient healthcare and safety in Malaysia.

The Council will have five functions, namely, to (1) develop a national, electronic database system for reporting and documenting medical errors in hospitals, (2) promote an open and fair system for the confidential reporting of incidents, (3) analyze these incidents and learn how to avoid them in the future, (4) devise strategies to improve safety and quality and, (5) publish reports on adverse incidents and patient safety.

The Patient Safety Council is comprised of about 30 experts from across the healthcare industry. Council members include individuals from the Malaysian Ministry of Health, university hospitals, professional organizations, representatives from the private sector and the president of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association. These experts will focus on six main issues, specifically, data and information, consumer education, continuing education, medication safety, transfusion safety and quality of work life. The Council will take into account some of the common reasons for errors in the workplace, such as time constraints, inadequate training, understaffing, fatigue and inexperience. After determining the reasons for patient complaints and medical errors, the Council will propose strategies for resolving these issues.