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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : H E A L T H & W E L L B E I N G

Adverse events, such as medical errors and healthcare infections, affect

more than three million people per year – about 10% of the patients

admitted to hospitals – with a total annual cost of over €2.7bn for medical

expenses. This can and must be avoided through lifelong training and

education programmes for health professionals; awareness raising

campaigns; a multidisciplinary approach to treatment built on evidence-

based medicine; concrete measures to report adverse events and expose

them, together with systems for collecting and evaluating data; and

telemedicine integrated with healthcare at home to rationalise costs and

increase the humanisation of care.

In the report, we called for some urgent measures to be undertaken such

as investment by the pharmaceutical industry in the ‘real’ development

of new antimicrobial drugs and, at the same time, research into

alternative natural methods to fight drug resistance. Other

recommendations include an appropriate microbiological diagnosis

before prescribing any antibiotics; the prohibition of sales without

prescription; awareness raising campaigns targeting all population

groups to promote an appropriate and responsible use of antibiotics; and

limiting the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.

What further efforts can the Commission and EU

member states make?

While progress has been made by member states in developing patient

safety strategies and reporting and learning systems, we regret that there

is still uneven progress among member states on patient safety. The

latter should implement the recommendation of the Council of the

European Union on patient safety as a matter of urgency. The

Commission should continue the work of its Patient Safety and Quality

of Care Working Group on comparable indicators to assess patient safety,

and member states should implement such indicators.

The Commission and the EU member states should also further explore

the possibilities offered by e-health in the area of patient safety in

reducing adverse events by tracking information flows and improving the

understanding of medical processes, as well as through digital

prescriptions and alerts on drug interaction.

the EU’s Action Plan against AMR post-2017,

led by the European Commission.

It is essential to stimulate further research for

new antimicrobial drugs, in particular antibiotics

with activity against prevalent multidrug-

resistant Gram-negative bacteria such as





as well as for

alternative methods aimed at fighting

healthcare-associated infections (HAI) without

using antibiotics.

Between 2010 and 2013, the percentages of

K. pneumoniae

resistant to fluoroquinolones,

third-generation cephalosporins and

aminoglycosides, as well as combined

resistance to all three antibiotic groups,

significantly increased in many EU member

states and at supranational level. Moreover,

during the same period, resistance to third-

generation cephalosporins also significantly

increased in many member states and at EU

level for

E. coli.

Other important challenges include increasing

awareness raising on the importance of the

rational use of antimicrobial agents, and

antibiotics in particular, in humans – as it

affects the development of drug resistance –

but also in animals.

What impact are national health

budget difficulties having on

overcoming AMR?

The austerity measures that some EU member

states have indiscriminately applied to the

health sector have a negative impact on

patient safety. For example, the reduction of

medical personnel or of hygiene specialists

increases the risk of patients getting HAIs. This

eventually leads to higher expenses for the

healthcare sector.

What are the key aims and

proposals of your ‘Safer healthcare

in Europe’ report?

The report aims at increasing patient safety in

the healthcare sector and to fight against AMR

by any means. The upstream cause of threat to

patient safety is political interference in the

appointment of managers and other health

professionals, which implies lower healthcare

quality standards. That is the reason why we

stressed in the report that EU member states

should “ensure that health managers are

appointed on the basis of their merit and not of

political affiliation”.

Responsible use of

drugs in veterinary

medicine, for example

disconnecting the

right to both sell

and prescribe

antibiotics, is a further

area of action