As a healthcare worker, you want nothing more than the well-being and safety of your patients. In saying that, even with top-notch care and five-star facilities, accidents and infections still occur.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Globally, as many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient health care. Up to 80% of harm is preventable. The most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription, and the use of medicines.”
So, what defines patient safety, and what steps can you take to create a safe healthcare environment? Let’s take a look.
What is patient safety?
Patient safety aims to reduce the risk and prevent harm to a patient whilst under clinical treatment and care. It involves minimising and putting a stop to the risk of
· Emotional harm
· Disclosure of private patient information
Type of patient safety issues in healthcare
The most common types of issues include:
· Infections and complications due to unsafe surgical and injection practices
· Accidents caused by slips and falls
· Failure to use protective equipment at the appropriate time
· Failure to appropriately sanitise
· Errors in diagnosis and treatment
· Poor communication
· Venous thromboembolism (blood clots)
Steps to improve patient safety and quality of care
While patient safety is an ongoing issue, the good news is there are ways in which you can improve the quality of care provided. For starters, below is a patient safety competency framework by CQ University Australia. This framework is for nursing students, but it is useful for all healthcare workers and one to keep handy.
The patient safety framework
1. Provide patient-centred care: by using a holistic approach and treating each person as an individual. This means protecting their dignity and respecting their rights.
2. Demonstrate therapeutic communication: this involves communicating both verbally and non-verbally. Most of all, carefully listening and understanding the person with a non-judgmental stance.
3. Show cultural competence: being respectful of each person’s cultural and religious beliefs, life experiences, and health practices.
4. Teamwork and collaboration: as the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. So, work with your team members and use each other’s knowledge and skills to provide better patient care. Don’t forget to communicate!
5. Clinical reasoning: accurately assess and interpret the information before you take action.
6. Evidence-based practice: provide care that is in line with current best practices whilst considering the patient’s needs.
7. Preventing, minimising, and responding to adverse events: anticipating risks to patient safety and taking the appropriate actions to manage and prevent such events from occurring in the future.
8. Infection prevention and control: Use effective, evidence-based strategies to prevent and manage healthcare-related infections. This also means minimising the risk of transmission.
9. Medication safety: minimise risks by administering medication safely while monitoring their use and accurately prescribing and dispensing medication.
This is just a brief overview of some of the steps you can take to help improve patient safety within the healthcare environment. There are plenty of other resources that you can refer to, from blogs, scholarly articles, and podcasts. In the meantime, as part of patient safety day (17th September 2022), the World Health Organisation has provided a global patient safety action plan which you can refer to.
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