Just What the Doctor Ordered

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Patient safety is an issue of concern in India. There is an almost total absence of records of cases of negligence and errors. Recognising this, in April this year, Dr Nikhil Datar formed the Patients Safety Alliance (PSA) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation. On 1 July, its first patients empowerment workshop was held in Mumbai. The session prompted a discussion on various aspects of patient safety. The UK’s National Health Service has reported that the risk of a patient dying of a healthcare hazard was more than in an air or nuclear disaster. “Medicines today are potent,” says Dr Datar, a gynaecologist, lawyer and consumer rights activist. “If a cotton wrap cannot do much to control someone’s body temperature, it can also not do much harm. But if you are using a drug capable of curing cancer, a slight overdose can prove fatal.” Vasumathi Sriganesh, CEO, Qmed Knowledge Foundation, which guides doctors and patients alike on reliable resources for research, recommends two websites—Pub Med health and Cochrane. “These sites provide an analysis of the research done over the past few years,” Sriganesh says. The idea behind PSA, Dr Datar says, is this: “Before we are doctors, we are patients, and to empower ourselves is our right as much as our responsibility.”