About First, Do No Harm

Safer care together

The First, Do No Harm patient safety campaign is one of the primary goals of the Northern Region Health Plan – outlining a set of shared objectives for the major public healthcare providers in the top half of New Zealand’s North Island.

Approved by the Minister of Health, the plan is an agreed strategy for addressing the significant pressures on healthcare in the Northern Region.

These include rapid population growth, ageing population and the rising burden of chronic disease.

Under the plan, the four Northern Region district health boards (Northland, Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau) are collaborating with three health organisations – the National Maori PHO Coalition, Alliance Health+ and Greater Auckland Integrated Health Network.

Implementation of the health plan is being supported by the Northern Regional Alliance (NRA), a shared services agency owned by the Auckland metropolitan DHBs. A Memorandum of Understanding has been formalised between First, Do No Harm and the Health Quality & Safety Commission and resources and expertise are being shared between First, Do No Harm and the National Patient Safety Campaign, Open for better care, which is being coordinated and led by the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

Click here to read the Northern Region Health Plan

First, Do No Harm campaign

There is clear evidence that certain interventions, if systematically applied, will improve patient safety, reduce costs and save patient lives.

A 1998 New Zealand study of hospital discharges found that 12.9 per cent had adverse events, 15 per cent of those were permanent or fatal and 33 per cent were significantly avoidable.

Avoidable serious adverse events translated to around 276,000 bed days. At an average cost of $13,000 per adverse event, the cost of preventable adverse events is estimated to be $573 million per annum.

Whilst these results are not atypical of any OECD country, the New Zealand health sector has not made significant systematic change to improve on these results.

First, Do No Harm has adopted a campaign methodology to create energy and momentum to make patient safety a top priority and to shift the mindset to a focus on achieving no avoidable harm.

Clinically-led, the key areas of this work are:

  • Reducing harm from falls
  • Reducing harm from pressure injuries
  • Reducing harm from healthcare-associated infections
  • Improving medication safety
  • Improving transfer of clinical information, and
  • Reducing peri-operative harm.

Click here to view the First, Do No Harm overview

Click here to find out more about First, Do No Harm strategy

Click here to view the First, Do No Harm timeline poster