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Posted 18 Dec 2012 in Open for better care

Welcome to the third update about the forthcoming national patient safety campaign.

The campaign goals are to save lives, prevent adverse events and save money so it can be spent on other areas of health care. Work is currently underway to quantify these savings.

The national patient safety campaign will align and work with existing patient safety initiatives, and aims to strengthen and support the development of improvement in patient safety. The focus will be on initiatives that are proven, and which fit within providers’ existing quality and safety strategies.

The campaign will focus on reducing harm in the following four areas, falls, healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), medication and surgery. In these areas it will align and work with existing patient safety campaign initiatives, such as the First, Do No Harm campaign underway in the Northern Region, and other local and national initiatives, such as Hand Hygiene New Zealand.

A phased approach

The national campaign will be launched in the first half of next year and will be phased, with ‘reducing falls’ as the first focus. The exact launch date is being confirmed. A further update will be sent in early 2013 and we will let you know about the events and activities being planned and how you can participate.

The campaign will support the development of national, regional and local clinical leaders and consumer champions. It will have:

  • strong branding to provide national visibility and connection between campaign work occurring around the country
  • resources, guidelines and advice, and a dedicated website that will also link to other regional patient safety websites
  • leadership training and capability building
  • comprehensive evaluation.

Engaging with the sector

The Commission has so far met with over 20 sector groups and over 200 individuals to discuss the campaign, with the following feedback:

Positive support:

  • good responses from all meetings
  • encouraged to make use of existing networks and leadership

Requests for a regional approach:

  • regions want to bring their own colour and leadership

Requests for a broader scope, beyond hospitals and patients:

  • wider community, aged residential care, primary care.

The case for change

Research shows that simple changes in clinical practice can lead to big reductions in harm.


  • 111 people fell in hospital and broke their hip in 2010–11 (analysis for 2011–12 is currently underway)
  • They stayed in hospital for an average of a month longer
  • Total estimated cost was $3m
  • Among these people there were 15 more deaths than we would have expected given their age and illness


  • In 2010–11 over 1,100 people had either an infection or a blood clot following an operation
  • 85 more died than we would have expected
  • They stayed in hospital 8–10 days longer than expected
  • Estimated cost of $5m

The right interventions can reduce these events by 25–30 percent. A 25–30 percent reduction in falls and HCAIs alone would mean 25–30 deaths avoided annually, which would mean $2m–2.5m in savings. This is only a very small subset of the harm that could be prevented, and the savings that could be made.

Evaluation approach

There will be a four-pronged evaluation approach:

  • Change of outcome – saved lives and costs, reduced harm (quality and safety markers)
  • Change of process – DHBs implementing changes known to reduce harm (quality and safety markers)
  • Process of change – the effect of elements of the campaign (awareness, response)
  • Infrastructure – have we increased skills, knowledge and networks to sustain and expand improvement?

For more information

Further information about the patient safety campaign can be found on the Commission’s website:

The next campaign update will be circulated early next year. 

Best wishes,
Health Quality & Safety Commission Campaign Team