Nursing Care and Patient Safety

Afza.Malik GDA

Patient Safety and Nursing Care

Nursing Care and Patient Safety

What Is Patient Safety,Improvement in Safety,Responsibilities of Health Care Leaders and Managers,Transactional Leaders and Transformational Leaders,Evidence Base Findings,Staffing Level,Nursing Position,Limitation on Care Delivery Needs,Organizational Cultural Impact,Organisational and Individual Commitment.  

What Is Patient Safety

    Past efforts to reduce costs and streamline the delivery of health care have led to significant changes, not always with a positive effect. 

    The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report, To Err is Human, which spotlighted the problem of patient safety, reported that tens of thousands of Americans die each year as a result of human error in the delivery of health care (Institute of Medicine , 2000). 

    The second report in this series described broader quality issues and defined six aims: These included that care should be 

(1) safe

(2) effective

(3) patient-centered

(4) timely

(5) efficient

(6) equitable (Institute of Medicine, 2001)

    The most recent report found that nursing is inseparably linked to patient safety, emphasizing that poor working conditions for nurses and inadequate nurse staffing levels threaten patient safety and increase the risk of errors (Institute of Medicine, 2003).

Improvement in Safety

    To improve patient safety, common definitions should be used and it should be understood that not all adverse events are patient safety problems. Essentially, patient safety applies to initiatives designed to prevent adverse outcomes resulting from errors and near misses. 

    Near misses are of interest because of the high probability of the event causing harm to the patient. Unfortunately, many adverse events and near misses are related to low nurse staffing levels or unskilled and inexperienced clinicians.

Responsibilities of Health Care Leaders and Managers

    Health care leaders and managers should strive to create nursing work environments that are conducive to patient safety. To do this, evidence-based management (EBM) strategies are suggested. 

    Most clinicians are now familiar with the notion of evidence-based practice, defined as the conscious. Explicit, and judicious integration of current best evidence to inform clinical decision making. 

    However, EBM is a fairly new term and framework (Sacket et al., 1996). EBM implies that managers, like clinical practitioners, search for, critically appraise, and apply empirical evidence from management research in their practice

    Currently, both managers and clinicians have little research-based evidence to apply and are often not experienced in the use of such evidence.

Transactional Leaders and Transformational Leaders

    In a seminal study on leadership, transactional leaders were differentiated from the more potent transformational leaders (Burns, J., 1978). Transactional leadership typifies most leader follower relationships; it involves a “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours” exchange. 

    In contrast, transformational leadership occurs when leaders engage with their followers in jointly held goals. This leadership approach is recommended because it transforms all workers-both managers and staff in the pursuit of the higher collective purpose of patient safety and quality care.

Evidence Base Findings

    An emerging evidence base is finding a strong correlation between higher staffing levels and lower occurrence of adverse events. 

    In a study of 589 hospitals in 10 states, the registered nurse (RN) staffing level was found to be inversely related to urinary tract infections (UTI) and pneumonia after major surgery (p < .0001) (Kovner & Gergen, 1998). 

    In another study of 799 hospitals from 11 states, researchers found UTI and pneumonia to have a consistently strong inverse relationship with nurse staffing ratios (Needleman, Buerhaus, Mattke , Stewart, &Zelevinski , 2001).

Staffing Level

    A line of research with a broader focus than staffing levels is the investigations involving Magnet hospitals (ie, hospitals that attract nurses, hence the term Magnet). 

    When Magnet hospitals were matched with control hospitals, controlling for case mix, Aiken and colleagues observed a Medicare mortality rate that was lower by 4.6 per 1,000 discharges (95% confidence interval 0.9 to 9.4) (Aiken, Smith, & Lake, 1994 ). 

    However, besides the attention of Magnet status, specifications were not identified. Magnet hospitals are known for higher nurse-to-patient ratios, lower staff turnover rates, and higher rates of nursing satisfaction.

Nursing Position

    Nurses are in the position of being “at the sharp end” of health care interventions by being the patient's advocate, providing care that may result in an error, or witnessing the error(s) of other clinicians. 

    Accidents, errors, and adverse outcomes result from a chain of events involving human decisions and actions associated with active failures and latent failures. Many of these failures are associated with individual performance that is impaired by stress, distractions/interruptions, and fatigue.

Limitation on Care Delivery Needs

    Care delivery needs to be redesigned respecting human limitations, particularly the debilitating effects of stress and fatigue on performance (Norman, 2002). Research continues to confirm that clinicians with the appropriate skill, experience, and workload are less likely to make patient safety errors. 

    Yet one of the barriers to improving patient safety, considering the level and types of interactions among clinicians and components within health care, is the ability to recognize and correct errors (Kohn, Corrigan, & Don- aldson , 2000).

Organizational Cultural Impact 

    There is increasing consensus that the organizational culture impacts patient safety and the quality of care (Gershon, Stone, Bakken , & Larson, 2004). Important aspects of safety cultures include communication, non-hierarchical decision making, constrained improvisation, training, and rewards and incentives (IOM, 2003a).

Organisational and Individual Commitment  

    Organizational and individual commitment to improving patient safety requires effective leadership and proactive interventions. Patient safety improvements need to draw from qualitative and quantitative research describing work processes and responsibilities, methods to improve performance respecting human limitations, and designs of patient safety supportive communication and team approaches to health care delivery.


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