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A substantial proportion of the adverse events that take place each year in healthcare settings in the European Union (EU) are preventable. Effective interventions can reduce the effect of errors on morbidity and mortality. One in ten patients is estimated to be concerned by preventable harm but exact estimates are scarce because few EU Member States have performed in-depth studies. Clearly, however, the errors that occur in all health care systems are similar despite differences in the ways these systems are organised or financed. According to the Eurobarometer survey published in January 2006, 78% of EU citizens consider medical errors to be an important issue in their country.

EUNetPaS (European Union Network for Patient Safety) is a project funded and supported by the European Commission within the 2007 Public Health Programme. This project is coordinated by HAS (French National Authority for health). Its purpose is to establish an umbrella network of all 27 EU Member States to encourage and enhance their collaboration in the field of Patient Safety (culture, reporting and learning systems, declaration of adverse events, education and monitoring PS), thus maximising efficiency of efforts at EU level. EUNetPaS will establish common principles at the EU level through the integration of knowledge, experiences and expertise gathered from individual Member States, facilitate the development of Patient Safety programmes in Member States, and also provide support to less advanced countries.
One of the main aims of EUNetPaS is to evaluate, validate and diffuse the new knowledge and good practices garnered within the network in order to decrease the risk of preventable harm to patients during their stay in healthcare organizations and, more generally, to improve the quality of healthcare. The information thus obtained will be targeted at health professionals, political decision-makers and EU citizens.

EUNetPaS will provide a platform for collaboration and networking among Member States, international organisations, and stakeholders, enabling them to identify and exchange good practices on Patient Safety (PS). It will also associate professionals from health care organisations in 10 Member States who will test some of these practices in the field of medication safety. For this, the network will be organized in seven complementary work packages each comprising experts in the field of Patient Safety as well as representatives from national decision-making bodies. EUNetPaS will focus on four topics:

  1. Promoting a culture of PS: National representatives/experts will collect and exchange information on PS culture, practices and indicators in Member States. They will make the data available to stakeholders through web-based systems, thus facilitating cross-border care. They will collect information and test an instrument for assessing PS culture and a set of Patient Safety Indicators in healthcare organizations of Member States using the network’s organizational framework (national contact points coordinating national platforms) and the expertise of national agencies.
  2. Structuring Education & Training in PS: Education and training for health professionals will be based upon existing materials such as curricula, national Continuing Professional Development programmes, standards, etc. Core European curricula for PS will be proposed for higher education and as part of continuing education.
  3. Implementing Reporting & Learning Systems: Information will be identified, collected and structured to add value to PS reporting systems in the EU and provide Member States with a database of solutions to related issues that they can draw upon for their own work.
  4. Defining Pilot Implementation on Medication Safety: The aim is to improve the quality of prescriptions and use of medicines in hospitals by identifying best practices for reducing medication errors, translating them into tools, and testing these tools in selected hospitals. One of the aim of the project is to promote cooperation and create a permanent network of hospitals. Hospitals will be active participants in all the activities of this workpackage.

Outcomes expected:

  • More efficient use of resources; support to countries less advanced in the field of PS by exchanging information and best practices.
  • Development of a PS culture in Member States by

            •    integrating knowledge, experiences and expertise,
            •    developing PS programmes at Member State level, 
            •    establishing recommended shared principles on PS in the EU.

  • Production of guides for healthcare professionals on core competencies and development of curricula for medical doctors and nurses to acquire competency.
  • A rapid alert mechanism for sharing high-priority PS issues or solutions among Member States.
  • Development of a European Union community of healthcare organisations and national institutions involved in PS through a pilot scheme for medication error prevention.
  • Support for raising awareness and developing a PS culture in Member States.


Project Coordinator
Jean Bacou
Haute Autorité de Santé
2, avenue du Stade de France
93218 Saint-Denis La Plaine Cedex, France
Phone: +33 1 55 93 73 37

Maggie Galbraith
Haute Autorité de Santé
2, avenue du Stade de France
93 218 Saint-Denis La Plaine Cedex, France
Phone : + 33 1 55 93 37 06

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