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Patient safety

Patient safety is a high priority for pharmacists. Historically, they have safeguarded people from “poisons” and other substances that could cause harm. But now, more than ever, pharmacists are charged with the responsibility to ensure that when a patient receives and uses a medicine, it will not cause harm.

Pharmacists are key healthcare professionals, specialising in medication management. Pharmacists and their pharmaceutical support workforce are involved in a variety of activities that affect patient safety, including direct patient care and being part of healthcare teams. Pharmacists are well-positioned to advocate for both safer medication management systems, including management of medication shortages, and a culture of patient safety in health care organisations. To learn about interventions in different settings and case studies form different countries, read FIP’s “Patient safety: Pharmacists’ role in ‘medication without harm’”.

FIP’s advocacy at Global Ministerial Summits

On a global level, FIP works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) on its patient safety programme. For over a decade, FIP has been closely involved in advancing and advocating for global patient safety. For example, FIP was an early supporter of the WHO Medication Safety Challenge and was an integral part of its official launch at the summit of health ministers in Bonn, Germany, in 2017. Since this launch, FIP has been an invaluable asset to promoting patient safety, taking an essential role in annual global health ministers’ summits and other critical policy events.

In 2018, FIP told health ministers at the Patient Safety Global Ministerial Summit in Tokyo, Japan, about the important roles pharmacists play in patient safety.

In 2019, FIP promoted the adoption of the Jeddah Declaration on Patient Safety at the Patient Safety Global Ministerial Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This declaration highlighted important patient-safety recommendations for low- and middle-income countries and thanks to FIP’s advocacy, the 8th point of the declaration refers explicitly to promoting medication safety in community pharmacies and strengthening patient empowerment and community engagement efforts.

Although there have been no summits since 2020, FIP continues with partnerships and with its presence at meetings online.


Zuzana Kusynová, FIP lead for policy, practice and compliance, at the Fourth Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety (2019), addressed ministers and highlighted pharmacists’ key role in ensuring patient safety. 

Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030

The Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 was launched by the WHO in 2021. FIP supported the launch, when Zuzana Kusynová, FIP lead for policy, practice and compliance, moderated the WHO event “Partners in action: Engaging stakeholders for implementing the GPSAP 2021–2030”. The action plan paves the way for 10 years of concrete work on patient safety globally. FIP encourages pharmacists to take an active role in ensuring safer medication practices and medication use processes, including prescription, preparation, dispensing, administration and monitoring, in line with the action plan.

World Patient Safety Day 

The primary objectives of World Patient Safety Day are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding of patient safety, and spur global solidarity and action to support patient safety. World Patient Safety Day is observed globally on 17 September of each year. It is celebrated by bringing patients, communities, healthcare leaders, and health workers together to show their commitment to patient safety.

In 2019, FIP encouraged the adoption of resolution WHA 72.6, “Global action on patient safety,” which led to establishment of World Patient Safety Day. Since then, FIP contributes annually to celebrating this important world day. For example, in 2020, FIP presented pharmacists’ roles at a WHO event, and in 2021, FIP organised a webinar dedicated to patient safety. In 2022, FIP is part of the World Patient Safety Day 2022 Steering Committee established by the WHO to prepares campaign activities. Stay tuned to our social media for upcoming plans.

Tools for pharmacists

As part of the third WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm, FIP contributed to developing the 5 Moments for Medication Safety tool to engage patients in their care in a more active and empowering way. The 5 Moments are key points in a patient’s care where action by the patient or caregiver can greatly reduce the risk of harm associated with medication:

  1. Starting medication
  2. Taking medication
  3. Adding medication
  4. Reviewing medication
  5. Stopping medication

Each moment includes critical questions that promote patient self-reflection and patient engagement with a health professional. The tool is designed for easy use by patients, families and caregivers with the help of health professionals at all levels of care and across all settings.

In addition, FIP contributed to the WHO’s guidance, reports and resources to more easily promote patient/medication safety across different settings and health situations:

Medication safety in transitions of care
Medication safety in high-risk situations
Medication safety in polypharmacy

Furthermore, the role of the pharmacists is highlighted in various external resources. One example is the WHO key factsheet on Medication safety in prisons [hyperlink with]

Last update 10 November 2022

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