Patient Safety in Nursing
Patient safety is a discipline in healthcare that focuses on preventing and reducing risks, errors, and any form of harm that may befall a patient during healthcare provision. Healthcare professionals are continually trying to avoid medical errors during practice. However, the health care system is prone to errors. In fact, medical errors are quite common and can be any medical professional’s worst nightmare when they occur. Medical errors range from minor errors to serious mistakes that can be fatal. A recent report by John Hopkins University ranked medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States in the past couple of years.
Physicians play a crucial role in the treatment process. But they only spend an average of 30 to 45 minutes a day with their patients. Nurses, on the other hand, contribute immensely to the recovery process of their patients. Nurses are constantly present at the bedside with their patients regularly and directly interacting with not only the patients but also their families and the entire healthcare team. As such, the delivery of top quality and safe health care is vital to all nurses. Because nurses are involved in almost all areas of care delivery, they must prevent harm to patients by providing quality and safe health care to their patients across all settings.
Among the roles played by a nurse in ensuring patient safety include monitoring the patient’s recovery process, detecting any clinical deterioration, and communicating with the lead physician regarding any notable changes. The nurse also is responsible for detecting errors and near misses, including catching prescription and medication mistakes. A major factor that hinders patient safety is the improper usage and lack of compliance with medication regimes by the patients. Nurses are tasked with the role of educating the patients about their medications to avoid harm. Lastly, nurses also play an important role in preventing falls in the elderly and patients who are too weak to care for themselves. They can help them directly with their daily activities or educate them and their families about tips to prevent and reduce falls.
Patient safety is essential in the delivery of quality healthcare. But while nurses are considered key players in patient safety, the entire healthcare team, including doctors, assistants, and physicians, should also be involved in ensuring utmost patient safety. Significant improvements can only be realized if the process is viewed as a collaborative effort where the entire healthcare team work together to effect optimal patient safety.
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