Believe it or not you're safer on a plane than in hospital!

If you thought you were safer in hospital than on a airplane, you could be wrong.

According to Britain's chief medical officer, the risk of being killed in a hospital in a developed country due to medical error is around one in 300, while the risk of dying in an air accident is one in 10 million.

Liam Donaldson, who also chairs the World Health Organisation's World Alliance for Patient Safety, says the paradox is that people are more frightened of air travel than they are of healthcare.

Donaldson says such a gulf in safety standards is unacceptable, even after making allowances for the poor condition of many patients entering hospital.

He says healthcare professionals need to learn from other sectors how to make safety a top priority.

Though other high-risk industries have systematically improved safety over a period of decades the healthcare industry has not and he says the airline industry is the most high-profile example.

He issued the warning at the start of a three-day summit on patient safety in London being attended by experts from across Europe, as part of Britain's presidency of the European Union.

British Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has promised that the UK will give 25 million pounds over the next five years to the World Alliance for Patient Safety, which works to raise awareness of safety issues.

According to a report this month from the National Audit Office, over 2,000 patients died in hospitals in Britain alone last year because of accidents and errors.

It appears that half of those cases, which included misdiagnoses, life-threatening delays in treatment and patients being given the wrong medication, could have been avoided if lessons from previous accidents had been learned.

News-Medical.Net Staff

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