3 Strategies to Improving Patient Safety in Healthcare
Patient safety is an ongoing issue across the continuum of care. This includes workplace safety, healthcare-acquired infections, and medical errors, just to name a few examples. In fact, a study finds that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer. Respondents say that the contributing factors that led to medical errors include:
- the provider’s lack of attention to detail (69%);
- a poorly trained provider (58%);
- burned-out physicians (50%); and
- lack of communication between multiple providers (47%).
Whether the safety of patients is impacted by varying communication styles or a poorly trained provider, these are all issues that can be addressed to provide a safer caring environment. Here are three things you should consider to improve patient safety at your healthcare organization.
1. Patient-Centered Care
To improve care, providers must adopt a culture that focuses on the patient and involves them more closely in clinical decisions. However, healthcare organizations are still struggling to get it right simply because they don’t have a culture centering on the patient, says Jennifer Perry, Vice President of FMG Leading in a PreCheck article. “Many providers mistakenly focused only on customer service training or service gimmicks rather than making patient-focused healthcare central to their strategy and culture.”
In order to be effective, physicians need to focus on patients more closely, rather than on electronic health records (EHR) and other desk work during office hours. An American Medical Association study found that doctors spend two hours in clerical work for every hour with patients, which doesn’t allow sufficient time to have in-depth conversations about their health and treatment options.
2. Communication and Ongoing Feedback
One critical behavior experts say will help improve quality and safety concerns in healthcare is adopting a culture of “speaking up” about medical errors. The Joint Commission estimates that as many as 80 percent of serious safety lapses are due to poor communication among healthcare professionals. “The provider community has come under significant pressure to cut those numbers with many saying hospitals and other providers must become more transparent about adverse events and take steps to report them when they happen and then find ways to prevent them,” says Ron Shinkman, Editor at FierceHealthcare.
According to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety, providing ongoing feedback about reporting errors was the most likely way to get employees to report errors voluntarily, no matter what the severity. These results suggest that to increase voluntary reporting of all types of errors and patient safety events, regardless of the perceived severity, healthcare leaders should prioritize establishing feedback mechanisms that demonstrate to staff the value of information learned from the reported incidents such as how it can help improve processes to prevent the same mistake from reoccurring.
3. Teamwork Skills Training
Healthcare teams that communicate and work together efficiently can reduce their potential for errors by nearly 20 percent, according to researchers. In fact, not only does teamwork skills training improve patient outcomes, but it can also improve clinical performance by 34 percent; thus, improving talent, patient satisfaction, the organization’s bottom line, and much more. “Better teamwork has the potential to reduce medical errors while offering many other benefits to your facility,” says Jess White, Contributing Editor for HealthcareBusinessTech.com. “And as healthcare delivery becomes more focused on patient outcomes, making sure the entire care team is on the same page will be even more critical.”
What are your thoughts? Are these enough to impact patient safety and care in today’s ever-changing healthcare climate? Please share in the comments section below.