Over the last decades, quality and safety within healthcare delivery have risen to become major concerns in health policy and research. Medical errors remain the primary cause of injuries, and the relations between nurse staffing and quality outcomes have been highlighted by several studies (World Health Organization, 2016; Waring et al., 2016).
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Since the 1990s, healthcare-related policies have gained momentum, becoming a weighty phenomenon that involves legislative actions at different levels, the establishment of practice standards and guidelines, as well as national consensus strategies. Within this scenario, it is vital to building a trusting culture, where mistakes are treated as opportunities for professional growth. This paper will offer some hints to answer topical questions within healthcare, underlining the centrality of common patient safety standards and practices and the policy implications related to practice errors.
The last decades of the twentieth century have witnessed an increased awareness of patients and health care workers with regards to safety and quality in delivering healthcare services. Since the 1990s, a series of scandals and bad practices have focused the attention of the public, while a plethora of studies have heralded approaches to improve care (Sherwood & Barnsteiner, 2017). From the turn of the millennium, safety and quality research are associated with the implementation of coherent policy, theory, and practice.
A common understanding of patient safety standards and practices among health professionals is crucial to creating a trusted environment where the role of practitioners is defined and recognized (Standards of Care in Nursing, 2019). Standards of care constitute the foundation for quality care, and they are continually upgraded to conform to the most recent scientific data and technologies available.
Human mistakes are inevitable in the health care system, causing injuries and even inpatient deaths. They affect the care environment from several perspectives, including patients outcomes and satisfaction, and extra government expenditure due to the additional costs (WHO, 2016). Several policies have been implemented to address the issue adequately, drawing inspiration from those organizations that have already developed a culture of safety, such as aviation companies, air traffic control, and nuclear implants.
Within these fields, procedures have been implemented to report, collect, and analyze mistakes (Sherwood & Barnsteiner, 2017). The goal is to attain a just culture, where the focus is to understand what went wrong rather than identifying and punishing who committed the mistakes. Blame and punishment are associated with distrust and fear, resulting as well in physicians’ burnouts and failure to report errors properly (Pattison & Kline, 2016). On the contrary, understanding and preventing mistakes create a just and trusting environment, where healthcare professionals can operate serenely, reducing the risks of errors remarkably.
While errors are inevitable in the healthcare setting, how policymakers and healthcare structures cope with them can affect the quality of patient outcomes substantially. The development of patient safety standards and practice among physicians and nurses is paramount in recognizing the trusted role played by healthcare professionals. Also, the adoption of policies that overcome the old paradigm of blame and punishment is crucial in the modern healthcare setting. While the exasperate hunt to who committed the mistake leads to a distrustful and inquisitor environment, a thorough understanding of what caused the malpractice is a constructive way to provide improved patient outcomes. A just and trusted healthcare culture is a win-win situation, with benefits for both care professionals and patients.
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Pattison, J., & Kline, T. (2015). Facilitating a just and trusting culture. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 28(1), 11-35. Web.
Sherwood, G., & Barnsteiner, J. (Eds.) (2017). Quality and safety in nursing: A competency approach to improving outcomes (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Standards of Care in Nursing. (2019). Web.
Waring, J., Allen, D., Braithwaite, J., & Sandall, J. (2016). Healthcare quality and safety: a review of policy, practice and research. Health & Illness, 38(2), 198-215. Web.
World Health Organization. (2016). Planning for the global patient safety challenge – medication safety. Web.