Quality and Safety for the Patient
How can quality and safety for the patient be provided if nurses and other health care team members do not speak up when patient safety is in jeopardy
How can quality and safety for the patient be provided if nurses and other health care team members do not speak up when patient safety is in jeopardy? With three references.
Then respond to 2 of your colleagues in no less than 150 words
What is Patient Safety?
Patient Safety is a health care discipline that emerged with the evolving complexity in health care systems and the resulting rise of patient harm in health care facilities. It aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm that occur to patients during provision of health care. A cornerstone of the discipline is continuous improvement based on learning from errors and adverse events.
Patient safety is fundamental to delivering quality essential health services. Indeed, there is a clear consensus that quality health services across the world should be effective, safe and people-centred. In addition, to realize the benefits of quality health care, health services must be timely, equitable, integrated and efficient.
To ensure successful implementation of patient safety strategies; clear policies, leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled health care professionals and effective involvement of patients in their care, are all needed.
Why does patient harm occur?
A mature health system takes into account the increasing complexity in health care settings that make humans more prone to mistakes. For example, a patient in hospital might receive a wrong medication because of a mix-up that occurs due to similar packaging. In this case, the prescription passes through different levels of care starting with the doctor in the ward, then to the pharmacy for dispensing and finally to the nurse who administers the wrong medication to the patient. Had there been safe guarding processes in place at the different levels, this error could have been quickly identified and corrected. In this situation, a lack of standard procedures for storage of medications that look alike, poor communication between the different providers, lack of verification before medication administration and lack of involvement of patients in their own care might all be underlying factors that led to the occurrence of errors. Traditionally, the individual provider who actively made the mistake (active error) would take the blame for such an incident occurring and might also be punished as a result. Unfortunately, this does not consider the factors in the system previously described that led to the occurrence of error (latent errors). It is when multiple latent errors align that an active error reaches the patient.
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To err is human, and expecting flawless performance from human beings working in complex, high-stress environments is unrealistic. Assuming that individual perfection is possible will not improve safety (7). Humans are guarded from making mistakes when placed in an error-proof environment where the systems, tasks and processes they work in are well designed (8). Therefore, focusing on the system that allows harm to occur is the beginning of improvement, and this can only occur in an open and transparent environment where a safety culture prevails. This is a culture where a high level of importance is placed on safety beliefs, values and attitudes and shared by most people within the workplace (9).
The burden of harm
Every year, millions of patients suffer injuries or die because of unsafe and poor-quality health care. Many medical practices and risks associated with health care are emerging as major challenges for patient safety and contribute significantly to the burden of harm due to unsafe care. Below are some of the patient safety situations causing most concern.
Medication errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems: globally, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at US$ 42 billion annually (10).
Health care-associated infections occur in 7 and 10 out of every 100 hospitalized patients in high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries respectively (11).
Unsafe surgical care procedures cause complications in up to 25% of patients. Almost 7 million surgical patients suffer significant complications annually, 1 million of whom die during or immediately following surgery (12).
Unsafe injections practices in health care settings can transmit infections, including HIV and hepatitis B and C, and pose direct danger to patients and health care workers; they account for a burden of harm estimated at 9.2 million years of life lost to disability and death worldwide (known as Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)) (5).
Diagnostic errors occur in about 5% of adults in outpatient care settings, more than half of which have the potential to cause severe harm. Most people will suffer a diagnostic error in their lifetime (13).
Unsafe transfusion practices expose patients to the risk of adverse transfusion reactions and the transmission of infections (14). Data on adverse transfusion reactions from a group of 21 countries show an average incidence of 8.7 serious reactions per 100 000 distributed blood components (15).
Radiation errors involve overexposure to radiation and cases of wrong-patient and wrong-site identification (16). A review of 30 years of published data on safety in radiotherapy estimates that the overall incidence of errors is around 15 per 10 000 treatment courses (17).
Sepsis is frequently not diagnosed early enough to save a patient’s life. Because these infections are often resistant to antibiotics, they can rapidly lead to deteriorating clinical conditions, affecting an estimated 31 million people worldwide and causing over 5 million deaths per year (18).
Venous thromboembolism (blood clots) is one of the most common and preventable causes of patient harm, contributing to one third of the complications attributed to hospitalization. Annually, there are an estimated 3.9 million cases in high-income countries and 6 million cases in low- and middle-income countries (19).
Patient Safety – a fundamental component for Universal Health Coverage
Safety of patients during the provision of health services that are safe and of high quality is a prerequisite for strengthening health care systems and making progress towards effective universal health coverage (UHC) under Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote health and well-being for all at all ages) (7).
Target 3.8 of the SDGs is focused on achieving UHC “including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” In working towards the target, WHO pursues the concept of effective coverage: seeing UHC as an approach to achieving better health and ensuring that quality services are delivered to patients safely (20).
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It is also important to recognize the impact of patient safety in reducing costs related to patient harm and improving efficiency in health care systems. The provision of safe services will also help to reassure and restore communities’ trust in their health care systems (21).
Resolution (WHA 72.6) on Patient Safety
Recognizing that Patient Safety is a global health priority, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a resolution on Patient Safety which endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day to be observed annually by Member States on 17 September.
1. Patient Safety as a global health priority
The purpose of World Patient Safety Day is to promote patient safety by increasing public awareness and engagement, enhancing global understanding and working towards global solidarity and action.
2. World Patient Safety Day
Key strategic action areas
The Patient Safety and Risk Management unit at WHO has been instrumental in advancing and shaping the patient safety agenda globally by focusing on driving improvements in some key strategic areas through:
providing global leadership and fostering collaboration between Member States and relevant stakeholders
setting global priorities for action
developing guidelines and tools
providing technical support and building capacity of Member States
engaging patients and families for safer health care
monitoring improvements in patient safety
conducting research in the area
By focusing on these key areas to facilitate sustainable improvements in patient safety, WHO aims to enhance patient experience, reduce risks and harm, achieve better health outcomes and lower costs.
WHO initiatives to date
WHO’s work on patient safety began with the launch of the World Alliance for Patient Safety in 2004 and this work has continued to evolve over time. WHO has facilitated improvements in the safety of health care within Member States through establishment of Global Patient Safety Challenges. Each of the Challenges has identified a patient safety burden that poses a major and significant risk. The challenges thus far have been:
Clean Care is Safer Care (2005); with the goal of reducing health care-associated infection, by focusing on improved hand hygiene.
Safe Surgery Saves Lives (2008); dedicated to reducing risks associated with surgery.
Medication Without Harm (2017); with the aim of reducing the level of severe, avoidable harm related to medications globally by 50% over five years.
WHO has also provided strategic guidance and leadership to countries through the annual Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety, which seek to advance the patient safety agenda at the political leadership level with the support of health ministers, high-level delegates, experts and representatives from international organizations.
WHO has been pivotal in the production of technical guidance and resources such as the Multi-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Guide, Safe Childbirth Checklist, the Surgical Safety Checklist, Patient Safety solutions, and 5 Moments for Medication Safety (available in print and in App form).
To promote global solidarity, WHO has also encouraged the creation of networking and collaborative initiatives such as the Global Patient Safety Network and the Global Patient Safety Collaborative. Recognizing the importance of patients’ active involvement in the governance, policy, health system improvement and their own care, the WHO also established the Patients for Patient Safety programme to foster the engagement of patients and families.
1. Jha AK. Presentation at the “Patient Safety – A Grand Challenge for Healthcare Professionals and Policymakers Alike” a Roundtable at the Grand Challenges Meeting of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 18 October 2018 (https://globalhealth.harvard.edu/qualitypowerpoint, accessed 23 July 2019).
2. Slawomirski L, Auraaen A, Klazinga N. The economics of patient safety: strengthening a value-based approach to reducing patient harm at national level. Paris: OECD; 2017 (http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/The-economics-of-patient-safety-March-2017.pdf, accessed 26 July 2019).
3. de Vries EN, Ramrattan MA, Smorenburg SM, Gouma DJ, Boermeester MA. The incidence and nature of in-hospital adverse events: a systematic review. Qual Saf Health Care. 2008;17(3):216–23. http://doi.org/10.1136/qshc.2007.023622
Ensuring that every patient is safe and free from hazards should be a priority in every hospital. Every facility should have policies to follow if the safety of patients is at risk or has been compromised. In this essay, I will discuss patient safety, risk prevention and risk management. I will further describe how the three work together with the focus of decreasing harm to patients and reducing resultant claims.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes patient safety as the absence of avoidable harm inflicted on a patient during care. Patient safety also involves decreasing the risk of preventable harm related to health care to the minimum acceptable level (WHO, 2017). To safeguard and improve patients’ safety in the provision of health care, organizations should formulate policies and scientific information that promote safety practices (Sujan et al., 2015). Additionally, employing skilled health providers and actively involving patients in their plan of care significantly helps in sustaining and improving patient safety.
Health organizations and staff should prevent risks to the least possible level. Hazards that pose a risk in health care are classified as biological, chemical, physical and mechanical (Tamers et al., 2019). The hazards put patients and staff at risk of acquiring nosocomial infections, accidents, and injuries. Nevertheless, the risks can be prevented by having clear guidelines on infection prevention and control, prevention of medical errors and safety precautions (Sujan et al., 2015). For instance, infection prevention can be practiced by having guidelines on aseptic technique practice, hand washing and using protective equipment such as gowns and gloves (Tamers et al., 2019). Safety precautions help prevent injuries and accidents such as falls and fire in health facilities.
Risk management involves quality and safety improvement of health services through the identification of conditions that pose a risk to patients and prevention or control of the risks (Alam, 2016). The process of risk management in health care includes identifying the risk, assessing the severity and rate of recurrence. In addition, the risk identified is eliminated or reduced to the acceptable minimum (Alam, 2016). Lastly, an assessment is conducted on the expenses saved when the risk is reduced and on the amount it will cost if the risk occurs. It is crucial that organizations have a risk management team whose roles is to conduct a risk assessment, design and implement a plan on risk management (Alam, 2016). The team further oversees the implementation of the plan by the staff to reduce exposure to hazards.
Decreasing Patient Harm and Mitigating Resultant Claims
Focusing on patient safety, risk prevention and risk management in a health organization help in decreasing harm to patients (WHO 2017). Health professionals should uphold the ethic of ‘Do no harm’, and this can be accomplished by preventing health risks that may deteriorate patients’ condition. Besides, if a patient is harmed during care, the patient can sue the facility (Sujan et al., 2015). Having a risk management plan ensures that patient care is not compromised, reduces liability cases and helps prevent fiscal losses.
To sum it up, health organizations should ensure that preventable harm to patients is reduced to an acceptable minimum. To safeguard patients’ safety, facilities should have guidelines on risk prevention that should be followed by the staff. In addition, a risk management team’s role in an organization is to identify risks, design and oversee the implementation of a risk management plan. This helps to a great extent in reducing harm to patients and mitigating financial loss due to claims.
Alam, A. Y. (2016). Steps in the process of risk management in healthcare. J Epid Prev Med, 2(2), 118.
Sujan, M., Spurgeon, P., Cooke, M., Weale, A., Debenham, P., & Cross, S. (2015). The development of safety cases for healthcare services: practical experiences, opportunities and challenges. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 140, 200-207.
Tamers, S. L., Chosewood, L. C., Childress, A., Hudson, H., Nigam, J., & Chang, C. C. (2019). Total Worker Health® 2014–2018: The Novel Approach to Worker Safety, Health, and Well-Being Evolves. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(3), 321.
World Health Organization. (2017). Patient safety: making health care safer (No. WHO/HIS/SDS/2017.11). World Health Organization.