Health

PSMF survey: Only 45% of patients feel in control of their health

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm in 2020 and drew attention to healthcare performance, access and resource use. Unfortunately, it took the impact of something as monumental as a worldwide pandemic to serve as a reality check about our broken healthcare system, which was built without a foundation for safety, reliability and person-centeredness across the continuum.

Image Credit: Patient Safety Movement Foundation

As we aim to shift into a post-pandemic world, the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF), a global non-profit committed to achieving zero preventable patient harm and death across the globe by 2030, has released the results from its “2021 Patient Safety Awareness Poll.” The survey examined the publics’ perception of patient safety and preventable medical harm and found that the public feels less in control over what happens to their health and that there is still a long way to go to educate the public about medical errors.

Some key findings included:

  • Only 53.2% of individuals know what the term “medical error” means and 37% were able to correctly define it.
  • It is apparent that there is still much work to do to bring awareness to this worldwide issue, as 87.3% of the respondents had heard little or nothing about medical error or patient harm in their local area.
  • Fifty-eight percent of the public is worried about medical errors during “every visit” or “occasionally” – especially outside of high-income
  • Only 45.9% of the public feels in control over what happens to their health, down 31% from 2020.
  • When asked what key areas of concern were, 50.9% were worried about out-of-pocket costs, 44% were most worried about receiving worse healthcare following the COVID-19 pandemic and 34.3% were concerned about access to quality care.
  • The public overwhelmingly supported creating more public information about this problem, with 82.4% interested in having more focus on promoting patient safety.

“We believe the public should be informed and feel confident in the care they are receiving, and these findings underscore that there is still improvement to be made,” said David B. Mayer, MD, CEO of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation.

Our movement requires a collective effort to achieve patient safety across the globe and while we have made significant progress focused on educating the public about patient safety in the last year, we are committed to continuing to bring awareness to this important issue.”


David B. Mayer, MD, CEO, Patient Safety Movement Foundation

The survey was conducted by ClearPath Strategies in March 2021. It consisted of 1,725 English-speaking individuals spanning six countries: Australia, India, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. The “2021 Patient Safety Awareness Poll Results Compared to 2020 Assessment” white paper can be accessed here. An infographic summarizing the key findings can be accessed here.

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