Hospital Work Hazardous to Your Health
"So much of this is about poor design," he says. "What we have to do is, first of all, declare this current state to be unacceptable. Then we have to look at how we can redesign the workplace, like we did with needles and the patient care units, to reduce the chances of injury and illness from happening."
Conway says hospitals should consider workplace safety in the context of efficiencies. "If you drive out the things that are causing people to hurt themselves, then you are probably driving out poor processes and driving out things that don't add value," he says.
The spike in bariatric procedures provides an excellent example of how procedures can be re-examined to make the transfer of heavy patients safer for healthcare employees.
"With appropriate training and equipment, patients can be transferred very safely from beds to wheelchairs or beds to stretchers, from stretchers to X-ray machines, if you have the right training, equipment, and the right number of staff," Conway says. "But if you miss any of those, there is a much higher chance that the employee is at risk of harm."
Hospitals are high-risk environments. Given the vitally important nature of the job, that risk will never be completely eradicated. That should heighten our respect and appreciation for the work of healthcare professionals. That doesn't mean that we must accept that their workplace cannot be made safer. We owe it to them.
Note: You can sign up to receive HealthLeaders Media HR, a free weekly e-newsletter that provides up-to-date information on effective HR strategies, recruitment and compensation, physician staffing, and ongoing organizational development.
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
- CMS Sets 2014 Pay Rates for Hospital Outpatient and Physician Services
- FDA hopes hospitals will switch to newly regulated pharmacies
- Not-for-Profit Hospitals Find Opportunity Amid Uncertainty
- The 5 Biggest Healthcare Finance Trouble Spots
- The Most Polarizing Topics in Healthcare IT
- Why You Should Involve Patients in Nursing Handoffs
- New G-Code to Pay Doctors for Broad Array of Non-Face-to-Face Care
- How CPOE Will Make Healthcare Smarter
- States Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Forgo Billions in Federal Funds
- Nonprofit Hospital Outlook 'Negative' in 2014