Patient safety is at the heart of healthcare. The importance of patient safety in healthcare can be highlighted by the fact that medical errors are a leading cause of mortality and injury in the United States. According to some estimates, medical errors result in over 251,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. Preventable adverse events, such as infections and medication errors, also contribute to a significant number of hospitalizations and prolonged recovery times.
Patient safety is important not only because it can save lives and prevent injuries but also because it can improve the overall quality of care and patient satisfaction. By ensuring that patients receive safe and appropriate care, healthcare providers can build trust and confidence in the healthcare system. Hence, in this article, we will be discussing the FIVE top patient safety issues you need to address immediately.
Top 5 Patient Safety Issues In 2023
According to Becker’s Clinical Leadership & Infection Control editorial team, the following five patient safety issues are crucial for healthcare leaders to emphasize in 2023. The list is based on news, study findings, and trends reported in the past year. Note that it is in no particular order.
Medication errors include patients receiving the incorrect medicine, the wrong dosage, or a drug combination that interacts poorly. These errors could be the result of documentation errors or other sorts of human errors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 U.S. reports each year associated with a suspected medication error; however, this information is voluntarily submitted, so the actual number is likely much higher.
Staffing shortages have remained a significant problem for hospital executives since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2022, over 100,000 healthcare employees departed their jobs, with only half of the hospitals claiming that they have adequate staff to meet the burden. In fact, According to research, one in every four Americans (25%) has noticed or personally experienced the impact of staffing shortages in healthcare, trailing only the retail sector with 35% staff shortages. As a result, nurses, physicians, and environmental services have increased strain and stress, reducing public services. Meanwhile, measures to get healthcare workers to return include offering flexible schedules, guaranteed nurse-patient ratios, and higher pay, although not all hospitals are making these promises.
In addition to staff shortages, hospitals are experiencing space shortages. Staffing constraints have an influence on capacity, but a scarcity of inpatient beds has been reported across the country as facilities deal with extra procedures rescheduled as a result of pandemic delays as well as a more severe flu season. Workforce shortages in post-acute care institutions have also been a major contributor to hospital capacity concerns, reducing hospitals’ ability to discharge patients on schedule. Given the importance of staffing in capacity challenges, hospital management will continue to focus on managing manpower shortages to alleviate capacity strain.
Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)
While the global pandemic increased awareness of infection management and prevention outside of healthcare, patients in healthcare institutions were still infected while receiving medical care. They were infected not with COVID but with bacterial diseases contracted at the hospital. Out of the six recorded bacterial illnesses, four rose by up to 14% due to breaches in infection control practices caused by staff shortages, over-capacity, and disturbance to the medical industry as a whole. A separate study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology discovered that HAI rates climbed and declined in tandem with COVID-19 increases.
Workplace safety issues
Working in a hospital can be hazardous. Lifting large objects, getting stuck with surgical equipment, slipping and falling, or being harmed by out-of-control patients or visitors all pose risks to providers. Infection is also a persistent risk. Patients are obviously exposed to several of these dangers. If these examples aren’t convincing enough, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ranks hospitals as one of the most dangerous places to work. According to a large OSHA study on hospital safety, hospitals reported a rate of 6.8 work-related accidents and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees in 2011; OSHA notes this is nearly double the average for private industry as a whole.
How To Improve Patient Safety In Hospitals – 5 Factors That Can Help
According to a 2016 Johns Hopkins University study, medical errors may be the third biggest cause of death in the United States. However, the good news is that errors may be addressed and prevented with sufficient precautions. When we talk about patient safety, we’re discussing lowering the chances of errors, injuries, or infections. The Institute of Medicine defines patient safety broadly as “avoiding injury to patients,” whereas the American Board of Preventive Medicine defines harm avoidance as “freedom from accidental or preventable injuries caused by medical care.”
Healthcare workers, medical groups, and individual hospitals may all have varied definitions of patient safety—but it’s clear what it isn’t when patients’ health is jeopardized owing to poor hospital practices. There is no magic pill that can solve patient safety difficulties, but a variety of factors have been shown to aid.
Use Monitoring Technology
As healthcare professionals, nurses and physicians are responsible for the care and well-being of multiple patients during their shifts, each with unique medical needs and treatment plans. Keeping track of these patients, their medications, and their procedures can be a challenging task and may lead to human errors. To mitigate this risk, the use of monitoring technology can be an effective way to ensure that the right procedures are being followed for the right patient and that all of the patient’s needs are being met. These systems provide real-time data, alerts, and automated reminders that help healthcare workers to stay on top of their patient’s needs, reduce the risk of errors, and improve patient outcomes. Monitoring technology also provides an easy way to track and document patient information, making it easier for healthcare workers to communicate with one another and ensure continuity of care.
Make Patients Understand Their Treatment
You may believe that the healthcare professional is only responsible for patient safety, but ensuring that patients are informed about their care is also critical to preventing errors. This does not imply that people must have the same level of comprehension of their situation as a healthcare expert, but a basic understanding of the treatment and the risks they confront can go a long way. Simply asking patients to recollect and repeat what they’ve been informed is an approach with adequate evidence to justify its usage in patient safety initiatives on a regular basis. This may help in reducing medication errors.
Verify all medical procedures
We’ve all heard horror stories about patients having their right knee replaced while the operation was initially scheduled for the left knee. Including regular verification methods in medical operations aids in the prevention of errors like this. The most widespread use of this form of verification is the Universal Protocol, which allows any member of the surgical team to call a “Pause” to verify the facts of the surgery.
Communication and teamwork
Effective communication and teamwork among healthcare professionals can help improve hospital patient safety. This includes clear and timely communication of patient information, as well as regular team meetings to discuss patient care and identify any potential risks or issues.
Adopting evidence-based practices that have been proven to be safe and effective can help to improve patient safety in hospitals. This includes guidelines for the treatment of various medical conditions, as well as protocols for infection control and medication management.
In conclusion, patient safety is an essential aspect of healthcare that requires attention and continuous improvement. The issues addressed in this blog have long proven to be a lingering problem for healthcare professionals. However, with the right practices, these can be minimized, starting with the 5 factors that we mentioned in this blog. Effectively adopting the solutions will not only help in solving the issues but will also provide a better environment to work on in the future.