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Patient Safety Programs Ineffective, Most Nurses Say

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 12, 2013

Another key component of patient safety is open communication between nurses and their peers (and their leaders); nurses and physicians; and hospitals and patients.

But again, nurses identify a gap between theory and practice. Despite the prevalence of patient safety programs—and the communication that those programs presumably encourage—just 37% of nurses rated their hospital as excellent at communication with the patient. Even fewer nurses (31%) say their hospital is excellent at communication between staff.

For example, 33% of nurses said that that "poor communication among nurses at handoff" is something that has increased the risk of patient safety incidences in their hospital in the past 12 months, and 31% said "poor communication with doctors" has also increased the risk of patient safety incidents.

Another area where nurses crave more communication is technology. The survey finds that 74% of nurses say that technology/software patient safety initiatives exist in their hospitals. Although 59% of nurses say that patient safety data is collected and reported, they also say that there's no follow-up or feedback given to the nurses.

Taken as a whole, these results seem to indicate that nurse leaders need to make a greater effort to really engage bedside nurses in patient safety initiatives, from development to implementation. Nurse leaders and executives should remember what Carolyn C. Scott, RN, M.Ed, MHA, vice president of performance improvement/quality for the Premier Healthcare Alliance, told me recently:

"There're some incredibly creative and innovative bedside nurses in each and every organization. I'm always amazed at the ideas and the strategies that they're even able to bring forward themselves; how to make something better."


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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4 comments on "Patient Safety Programs Ineffective, Most Nurses Say"


Beth Ulrich (3/24/2013 at 11:39 AM)
Could you please provide us information on the survey for the data you cited? Thanks!

Beth Boynton, RN, MS (3/21/2013 at 1:40 PM)
Thanks for your great article. I was compelled to write a blogpost about it. Seems too long for a comment? Here's the link: http://www.confidentvoices.com/2013/03/21/insights-on-disparaging-survey-what-practicing-nurses-believe-about-hospital-safety/

MaryAnn Foley (3/15/2013 at 12:54 PM)
The private- for profit psychiatric hospital that I work for pays "lip service" to its safety program, focusing on preventing patient falls. Yet, when I verbalized my concern, and followed up with a written concern, their solution to "my problem" would be to float me off of my unit on the nights that the floors were stripped, washed and waxed. They totally missed my point-that patients were at risk of slipping on the standing liquid solution used for cleaning.Walking down those wet hallways was "mandatory" for "patient safety". This hospital's leadership lacks critical thinking skills.