There is a huge difference between safekeeping and safe management. A hospital is considered unsafe when safety measures are not followed. Examples of unsafe management include the lack of adequate flooring, lighting and ventilation, dirty facilities, unhygienic conditions, pest infestation and the presence of disease-causing bacteria. On the other hand, healthcare is defined as a healthcare environment that meets or exceeds standards established by the medical community and implemented by healthcare professionals. Examples of healthcare that are considered unsafe include using improper procedures, providing inappropriate medication, failure to provide immunizations, exposing patients to conditions that could cause harm and not being appropriately dressed.
According to the World Health Organization, “the occurrence and severity of healthcare-related injury and illness are increasing globally” and are associated with a number of risks such as mortality, disability and poor survival. Healthcare quality is directly associated with patient safety because good healthcare allows people to lead normal, productive lives. Patients who receive preventative care, receive regular medical attention and are treated with kindness and respect have better outcomes than those who receive less treatment or who are treated disrespectfully. This chapter focuses on five aspects of patient safety that affect the outcomes of healthcare.
Nurses play a vital role in patient safety by identifying and evaluating any risks that may pose a risk to the patient’s health. They educate and advise individuals regarding health and healthcare. A well-trained and aware staff can facilitate communication between healthcare providers and individuals, thus ensuring that correct information is provided and acted upon. The development of clinical analytics improves healthcare by enabling healthcare institutions to identify and respond to threats and improve their clinical procedures and equipment. Healthcare organizations should implement clinical analytics systems, such as electronic health records and claims tracking systems.
Clinical data capture and documentation are the cornerstone of effective patient safety programs. This requires expertise and systematic approach from all stakeholders. It is crucial to use systematic methods and evidence-based practices to collect, organize and record data. These systems include structured outcome reporting; surveillance of progress and prevention measures; and exchange of data and recommendations with other health organizations. Healthcare organizations should implement quality improvement systems based on evidence-based practices in order to improve outcomes and maintain high quality, safe health-care environments.
Implementing evidence-based practices is the first step to improving patient safety. The implementation process involves collecting, organizing and analyzing large volumes of data. This requires extensive knowledge and experience in information science and computer science. Experts are needed to analyze this data in terms of its relevance to the organization, its value to the patients and the benefits to the practice’s workforce. Expertise in clinical analytics will then be required to determine how best to make use of the collected information and implement the improvements made.
An important role for an expert in the field of healthcare management is to evaluate the quality improvement program of a hospital or healthcare organization. They review quality improvement initiatives and recommend changes where necessary and possible. They also make recommendations about how to collect and manage large volumes of data and integrate it in order to build up reliable and credible data sets. Studies are also conducted to determine how best to share information and apply it to clinical analytics and quality improvement programs in the healthcare environment.
Improving patient safety is not possible without developing good clinical skills, the ability to collect and organize large amounts of data and develop meaningful inferences from this data. Healthcare organizations that cannot manage these skills are likely to suffer from inefficiency, staff turnover and poor outcomes. The quality of care provided by healthcare workers cannot be justified on only the basis of how well they treat their patients. As with any form of work, it is important to show results. Efforts by healthcare workers to demonstrate improvements in patient safety through research and standards development will lead to better outcomes and more people happy with their health care.