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The Healthcare Workplace: Patient Safety Culture

Fostering a safety culture is a key part of enhancing patient safety and service quality in the emergency care environment. Numerous researches indicate that a culture of safety and the associated safety climate framework are related to doctors’ practices, such as communication of failures, reduction of adverse events, and decrease in mortality. According to the information from the safety, organizational and social sciences, it is possible to define a culture of patient safety as an aspect of organizational culture. It affects the behavior, attitudes, and perceptions of health care clinicians and staff in the workplace by conveying signs of the relative primacy of client safety over other objectives (for example, productivity or efficiency). Culture also shapes clinicians’ and staff’s perceptions of “normal” patient safety-related behavior in their area of work. It forms an attitude towards what is commendable and praiseworthy (both formally by management in the workplace or unofficially by peers and co-workers). Therefore, culture affects an individual’s motivation to act safely and also the extent to which this motivation converts into a daily routine.

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Healthcare safety culture influences both the patients and the doctors. Studies have shown that as doctors’ workplace safety culture improves, so does patient safety. This happens because a safe doctor can provide better services to his or her patients. The list of threats to medical staff safety includes biological hazards associated with direct contact with chemicals and blood, risks of injury, and risks of radiation exposure during X-rays. The occupational safety of medical specialists can be ensured by scientifically based improvement of the treatment process technology and strict compliance with technological discipline.

For example, at the dental clinic where I am currently working, improving the technology of the treatment process in dentistry involves the following steps. First of all, it is the rationalization of organization and equipment of dental units, improvement of the design of dental equipment and instruments, and creation and manufacture of harmless fillings and dental materials. It also includes the development of innovative methods and ways of diagnostics, treatment, prosthetics, and the development of modes of work harmless for personnel health. Technological discipline is ensured by proper theoretical and practical training of specialists, selection and placement of staff, financing, material and technical equipment, and production control of the treatment and diagnostic process (American Psychological Association, 2020). The doctor has a leading role in the occupational safety and health complex, particularly in matters of technological discipline (Edelman et al., 2014). The presence or absence of risk determinants in the course of professional activity depends on the medical worker’s conscientiousness, education, adherence to principle, and strictness.

If the employer cannot fully ensure compliance with hygienic standards in the workplace for justified technological and other reasons, he must ensure that the work performed is safe for human health. It can be achieved by implementing a set of protective measures (organizational, sanitary and hygienic, analytical work and rest schedules, personal protective equipment). The task of human protection against harmful production factors is to reduce the level of toxic elements to levels not exceeding MPC and the risk of dangerous factors to the amount of acceptable risk. The main methods of human protection are improvement of technological processes and technical means, distance protection, protection by time, application of collective protection means, and application of individual protection means (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). The primary and most assuring method of protection is to improve the design of technological equipment, replacing it with more modern and progressive ones with a minimum level of hazard, emission of harmful substances, radiation.

Such an emphasis on checking and upgrading all the machinery and equipment ensures the safety of both the doctor and the patient. For instance, in the clinic where I did my medical practice, one of the mandatory measures to ensure a culture of patient and doctor safety was the regular inspection and renewal of the equipment. The General Inspections were carried out several times a week, while the routine inspections were conducted every day before working hours. This procedure was essential in terms of doctor’s safety and patient safety, as malfunctioning equipment could lead to disastrous consequences. A malfunction in the X-ray equipment, identified through a check-up at the beginning of the day, protected the doctor and the patient from receiving an excessive dose of radiation and its associated consequences for health.

Therefore, from the above analysis of safety culture and examples from real-life medical practice, it can be concluded that the introduction of a safety culture is integral to the quality functioning of a healthcare facility. Ensuring the doctor’s safety in the workplace ensures the patient’s safety when working with the doctor. This is because a doctor for whom the risk of injury, infection, and exposure is minimized can do a much better job. Moreover, the introduction of doctor-patient safety culture has both standard features for all medical practices (e.g., introducing safety measures such as wearing gloves and masks) and individual characteristics for each profession.

References

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.

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Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community (9th ed.). Elsevier Mosby.

Edelman, C. L., Mandle, C. L., & Kudzma E. C. (2014). Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span (8th ed.). Elsevier Mosby.

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