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Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research
Faculty of Health
Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood Vic 3125

Internationalisation and Global Engagement

Royal Kingdom of Bhutan Co-creating a program of patient safety research and training with researchers from the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan

WHO Patient Safety (a global research program of WHO) has identified patient safety ‘as a global issue affecting countries at all levels of development’. Commensurate with this observation, patient safety research and training have been designated as global imperatives. WHO Patient Safety explains, ‘understanding the magnitude of the problem and the main contributing factors is essential in order to devise appropriate solutions’. It further explains that understanding the local cultural context of patient safety initiatives and how best to enable the adaptation of ‘effective, appropriate and affordable solutions’, particularly in countries that are under-resourced, is also essential. To this end WHO Patient Safety has identified a number of global priority areas, i.e., ‘where there are substantial knowledge gaps’ and where ‘further knowledge would significantly contribute to improving patient safety and reducing harm’.

Bhutan is currently facing the challenge of developing mechanisms for scoping and improving understanding of the magnitude of patient safety issues in its hospitals and devising appropriate (locally/culturally adapted) solutions to the problems identified. In keeping with WHO Patient Safety designated global priority areas, QPS and its collaborating partners are committed to working with the RIHS to co-create a program of Research and Training in Patient Safety and Quality Care, which addresses WHO designated priorities. To this end, in 2013, QPS successfully applied for a Deakin International Research Development Scheme (DIRDS) grant to host a visit (14-18 October, 2013) by Dr Chencho Dorjee, Director of the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS), Bhutan, and Dr Neyzang Wangmo, Dean (Research and External Linkages) of the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS). The purpose of the visit was to commence collaborative work with QPS researchers on co-creating a program of patient safety research and training for future research funding and other related initiatives. The key objectives of the week long collaboration forum (which included face-to-face meetings and field visits), were to:

  • Develop a common understanding of the WHO global agenda for patient safety and quality care in resources and data poor nations
  • Develop a mutual, culturally informed and comparative understanding of patient safety processes and concerns in Bhutanese and Australian hospitals
  • Discuss the vision and mission of the ‘Patient Safety Beyond Borders’ (PSBB) initiative being led by Deakin-QPS
  • Explore challenges and opportunities for collaboration to develop and progress patient safety research and training programs/projects using:
    • Methodologies for developing locally adapted (culturally appropriate) solutions
    • Processes for ensuring equity and sustainability
  • Discuss processes for co-developing a strategic plan and action agenda (time permitting draft a preliminary plan)
  • Identify preliminary projects and resources
  • Build relationships with new colleagues and prospective partners

The objectives were achieved and QPS is in the process of planning further activities to progress its collaboration with RIHS. This has included Professor Megan-Jane Johnstone, Director of QPS, undertaking a study tour in Bhutan, where she met with officials in the Ministry of Health and presented a series of lectures to RIHS and hospital staff on advancing patient safety in resources and data poor nations. Following the Bhutan study tour, Professor Johnstone travelled to Thailand where she engaged in a similar forum with colleagues at Mahidol University, Bangkok. The objectives of the forum were the same as those set for the Bhutan forum. During her four day visit she presented a series of lectures to researchers and PhD students in the Faculty of Nursing on processes for advancing patient safety education and research in the ASEAN, South and South East Asian region.
A highlight of the week long forum was QPS hosting the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Deakin University, School of Nursing and Midwifery and RIHS.

Prof Brendan Crotty (PVC Health, Deakin University), Dr Chencho Dorjee (Director, RIHS, Bhutan);

Front left to right: Prof Brendan Crotty (PVC Health, Deakin University), Dr Chencho Dorjee (Director, RIHS, Bhutan);
Back Left to right: Prof Maxine Duke (head, School of Nursing and Midwifery), Dr Neyzang Wangmo (Dean, Research and External
Linkages, RIHS, Bhutan)