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Safety Culture in the Healthcare Workplace

As healthcare systems become more complex, there are growing concerns about the safety of patients and healthcare workers. The two parties should be safe against injuries and infections that are likely to arise in a health facility setting. I have worked as a nurse in a local acute care hospital for nine years, and while stationed there, I have learned certain matters related to the concept of safety culture. In this essay, I will discuss the hazards which healthcare workers and patients face, the causes and consequences of these risks, and possible ways of averting their occurrence in managing the safety culture agenda.

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In a hospital setup, the workers are exposed to hazards which include sharp equipment, harmful exposure to diseases, chemicals and drugs, back injuries, allergies, violence, stress, and fatigue, among others. Although exposure to these perils can be prevented or minimized, the workforce continues to experience mortalities, infections, and occupational harms in their workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (n.d.), the risks may also result in injuries and illnesses to patients and other staff members. For example, during this global pandemic, healthcare workers handling Covid-19 victims are at a high possibility of contracting the virus and spreading it to other patients or fellow practitioners. Two years ago at my workplace, a nurse was suspended for carelessly performing an acute care surgery on a patient (OSHA, n.d.). She later cited fatigue and occupational stress as the reasons for her conduct. Therefore, based on the two scenarios, it is mportant for health organizations to guard the physical and psychological health of their staff and patients.

Usually, the safety habits developed by workers are related to organizational elements. Employees are bound to follow the organization’s welfare protocols when they perceive the facility’s commitment to their welfare and when the management aims at elevating their support for worker safety (OSHA, n.d.). Organizations dedicated to employee wellbeing can promote training for knowledge and skills as far as their welfare is concerned. Since a health facility is a dynamic environment which also consists of patients, the Joint Commission (n.d.) proposed seven patient safety goals for the year 2021. According to The Joint Commission (n.d.), the organization advocates for improved accuracy of client identification processes, better staff communication, and safe medication administration. It also recommends reduced alarm systems injuries, minimal cases of healthcare-related illness, substantive identification of patient safety hazards, and error-free surgical procedures. When these goals are met, even the healthcare workers are assured of safety to a certain degree. For example, a patient cannot contract tuberculosis in the hospital and spread it to others.

Another cause of workplace-related injuries and illness that arise from non-compliance to safety standards is the absence of a safety culture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, as reported by the OSHA (n.d.), workforce adherence to safe practices results in safe habits. The contributing factors to safety culture contained in the 1999 Institute of Medicine report as echoed by the OSHA (n.d.) include management initiatives to enhance worker and patient safety. The report also contains employee engagement in safety planning, availability of useful protective clothing such as gloves and nose masks, and institution’s orientation program for new workers. At my place of work, the management partnered with a Red Cross and occasionally the organization would send a team to offer training on first aid skills. The team also offered guidance and counseling among other activities that revolved around patient and healthcare worker safety. The initiative helped in creating awareness on safety for the parties involved.

Safety and Health Management System

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends establishing of a safety and health management system to combat the occurrence of work-related injuries and infections. It describes the system as a proactive procedure through which healthcare workers can locate and resolve work hazards before they cause harm, which can cause injuries and infections to the people around (OSHA, n.d.). Through the framework, workers exhibit a changed institution culture, which enhances productivity and service quality, improved employee retention, reduced expenditure, less need for a worker or patient compensation, and higher worker and patient satisfaction.

The systems have helped people minimize personal, financial, and communal expenses imposed by injuries, mortalities, and illnesses. OSHA (n.d.) states that due to these advantages, many institutions are gradually adopting the safety and health management systems and recording significant improvement in service provision. The framework also encourages management leadership since a leader is responsible for the system operation, setting goals, supervision, seeking and acting on opinions, and issuing needed organization resources. This system also encourages stuff participation, which is a crucial provision to worker performance. When employees are allowed to present their ideas, they become more productive and feel satisfied with their role in the organization.

Conclusion

This essay has enumerated the common workplace hazards which patients and employees face in a healthcare facility. It also highlighted the consequences of these dangers and they were illness, infections, injuries, fatalities. Furthermore, the article identified some of the reasons why workplace disease, harms, and mortalities are prevalent in organizations. The essay concluded by recommending a safety and health management system as a proactive framework which can help institutions avert the negative results of workplace hazards.

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References

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (n.d.). Organizational Safety Culture – Linking patient and worker safety. Web.

The Joint Commission (n.d.). Hospital National Patient Safety Goals. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, September 27). Safety Culture in the Healthcare Workplace. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/safety-culture-in-the-healthcare-workplace/

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Safety Culture in the Healthcare Workplace." September 27, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/safety-culture-in-the-healthcare-workplace/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Safety Culture in the Healthcare Workplace'. 27 September.

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