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Safety in Healthcare: Tips for Maintaining Patient Health and Well-being

December 29, 2021  |  Category: Healthcare Administration, Infographics

 

Safety in healthcare is a worldwide priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only raised awareness of the urgent need to improve patient safety but also presented new challenges to safety in healthcare. However, these challenges existed before COVID-19. As our healthcare systems grow, the risk of harm to patients receiving care surges, in part because system failures cause patient harm to snowball. The developing safety in healthcare discipline aims to safeguard the people healthcare strives to heal.

To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by AdventHealth University Online’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration program.

Facts About the Importance of Patient Safety in Healthcare

Patient safety means avoiding the harm caused by receiving care. Patient harm can delay diagnosis or treatment, lead to hospital readmission, and cause disability or death. Examples of patient harm include hospital-acquired infection, falls at healthcare facilities, incorrect diagnoses, wrong medications, and surgery complications.

Patient harm is a top-10 leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In low- to middle-income countries, hospital care harms 2 in 25 patients, with 83% of these events considered preventable. In high-income countries, hospital care harms 1 in 10 patients, with 50% of these events considered preventable. Hospital infections, such as antibiotic-resistant MRSA, affect up to 1 in 10 patients worldwide.

Globally, 1 million or more patients die each year from surgery complications. Globally, up to 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary healthcare settings, with up to 80% of errors being preventable. People have a 1 in a million chance of injury while traveling by plane but a 1 in 300 chance of injury during healthcare.

Tips for Maintaining Patient Health and Well-Being

Health safety is a group effort: patients, caregivers, administrators, healthcare teams, communities, and health organizations must work together consistently to improve safety in healthcare.

All involved parties can create a safe environment by promoting a culture where providers focus on ensuring patient safety at all times; employees feel free to report patient harm and preventable errors; staff members are trained to communicate as a team; and data is tracked to improve follow-through after reported incidents of patient harm.

Additionally, health professionals can improve patient engagement by encouraging patients to take ownership of their care and by fostering partnerships between health professionals and patients, families, and communities.

Providers can also improve the healthcare facility’s work environment by recruiting and retaining enough employees, tapping into employee knowledge and experience, improving supply chain management workflows, and tying health system reimbursement to patient safety. One area of importance is improving safety at surgical centers, which can lack hospital protocols and may not be prepared to handle surgery complications.

Another way to support patient health safety is leveraging electronic health records (EHRs) across all facilities to make safer care decisions. Finally, healthcare professionals can consult The Joint Commission’s website for resources, including lists of commonly confused medications, a collection of best practices, and products and events related to patient safety.

Outlook for the Future of Patient Safety in Healthcare

COVID-19 safety measures brought safety in healthcare into sharper focus than ever before. Moving forward, healthcare organizations will see accelerated efforts to improve patient safety and well-being.

The World Health Organization has rolled out three global patient safety challenges: “Clean Care Is Safer Care” and “Safe Surgery Saves Lives” in 2004 and “Medication Without Harm” in 2017. Additionally, COVID-19 has prompted accelerated training in patient safety tools and methods. This training stands to improve safety in healthcare worldwide, not only in the current pandemic but also in future health crises.

Data-driven patient safety initiatives continue to evolve. Health organizations will step up their application of data, machine learning, and predictive analytics, leveraging data to address issues from a broad perspective rather than reacting to adverse events on a case-by-case basis. Also, hospitals will rise to technical challenges in understanding and monitoring exposure to cyberattacks.

The increased adoption of data, AI, and other technologies can improve patient safety by reducing employee burnout, thereby addressing the fallout from the continuing nursing shortage that contributes to errors that harm patients. Hospital clinical leadership will focus on improved patient safety via increasing continuous surveillance throughout a patient’s hospital stay.

Take Action to Improve Healthcare Safety

The days of the country doctor toting a medical bag to house calls are history. Healthcare systems are massive and often impersonal, and they face challenges to patient safety as never before: cyberattacks, nursing shortages, and communication breakdowns, to name a few. As healthcare systems progress, efforts to ensure safety in healthcare are poised to keep pace, ensuring that the medical industry will fulfill its ethical duty to do no harm.

Sources

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “10 Patient Safety Tips for Hospitals”

HealthCatalyst, “How to Use Data to Improve Quality and Patient Safety”

Health Leaders Media, “4 Patient Safety Trends for 2020”

The Joint Commission, Patient Safety

The Lancet, “Medication Without Harm”

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “What Exactly Is Patient Safety?”

Oxford Academic, “Quality and Safety in the Time of Coronavirus

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, “Patient Safety Trends for the Next Two Decades”

World Health Organization, “10 Facts on Patient Safety”