Advancing patient safety in Slovakia


WHO/Europe and Ministry of Health representatives at a round table discussion on patient safety, Slovakia, January 2013

To further strengthen intersectoral work for safer care and improved patient outcomes in Slovakia, international experts and national stakeholders met at a third roundtable meeting on patient safety in Bratislava, Slovakia on 27 November 2013. The event was organized by WHO/Europe and the Slovak Ministry of Health in the framework of their biennial collaborative agreement for 2012–2013, and opened by Dr Mário Mikloši, General Director of the Health Department of the Ministry of Health. 

The group of more than 70 participants included representatives of health care facilities involved in patient safety, quality management and improvement, public health workers, patient organizations, health care surveillance authorities and regulatory bodies.

Continuing progress

Building on two previous WHO-led events (2010 in Ljubljana and 2011 in Bratislava) on the patient safety concept and its institutionalization, this third roundtable event focused on policy and communication. A review of existing legislative aspects pertaining to patient safety emphasized the need: 

  • to establish a nonpunitive system for reporting of and learning from adverse events in health care,
  • to further improve the quality and safety of public health services through an integrated approach focusing on patient, provider and service.

The role of enhanced communication between the provider and the patient was emphasized from both the professional and patient community perspectives.

Based on its highly technical content, the event was credited by the Slovak Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.


Drawing from the national and international experiences presented and discussed, a set of recommendations and next steps for development in Slovakia were formulated. These addressed both the national and insitutional levels, as well as the provider and patient communities.

  • A national system for safer health care supported by dedicated legal and regulatory mechanisms for a nonpunitive learning system was considered a prerequisite, ensuring compliance with the European Council recommendation of 9 June 2009 on patient safety, including the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections (2009 / C 151/01) and the Directive 2011/24EU on patient rights in cross-border care.
  • A national multistakeholder advisory working group is expected to be created, to develop and support an action plan for the patient-centred safety agenda and considering the role of health insurance funds in its long-term sustainability.
  • While monitoring quality improvement and reporting adverse events should be a priority at all levels of care, requiring simple and functional systems supporting a learning process, particular attention is needed at the primary care/general practitioner level. 
  • In this respect, training on quality, safety and communication needs to be included in the medical curricula of healthcare workers and as a first step in continuous medical education programmes and health promotion campaigns for the general public. 
  • Work of the national network to be established for cooperation and information exchange in quality and safety will be coordinated with the Joint Action for Patient Safety PASQ in the European Union. The newtork will continue to work towards improving and coordinating quality and safety of care, as well as increasing direct patient involvement and satisfaction.