Enhancing Patient Safety in Health Care Organizations
The importance of the healthcare sector cannot be understated as far as the overall wellbeing of a nation’s economy is concerned. This is especially considering that only healthy people would have the mental and physical capacity to create wealth in any sector or at least guide the creation of wealth. This could explain why the health sector has been benefiting from increased funding from both the government and the private sector. Nevertheless, it is evident that the healthcare sector faces a number of challenges, chief among which revolves around ensuring high degrees of patient safety. Indeed, patient safety comes as one of the most serious public health issues in the entire globe, with statistics showing that about one out of every 10 patients is harmed in the course of receiving hospital care in the developed countries such as the United States (Byers & White, 2004). Of course, the risk is higher in developing countries than in developed countries, with some developing countries having as much as 20 times higher risks of infections associated with healthcare than in their developed counterparts.
While there may be varied patient safety issues, the biggest concern revolves around the unavailability of properly trained staff. Indeed, recent times have seen a reduction in the enrolment of individuals in medical schools (Wachter, 2008). This has resulted in a sharp reduction in the number of properly trained staff in the healthcare sector, and especially the operating room. Scholars have noted that this would become highly evident in surgery centers, which have been forced to hire Operations Room staff with no training whatsoever on the operating room (Byers & White, 2004). Some of these may be nurse practitioners with no experience and training whatsoever in the operating room. It is worth noting that such staff would need at least 3-5 years of operating room experience before they can be left on their own (Wachter, 2008). As much as the reduction of students taking up medical training may have caused the influx of untrained or sub-trained staff in the healthcare industry in general and operating rooms in particular, scholars have noted that some institutions are motivated by the desire to cut on their expenses (Byers & White, 2004). Indeed, untrained staff will always be hired at a relatively lower wage or salary compared to their trained counterparts.
This issue has far-reaching impacts on patient safety. It results in an increase in mistakes in the operating room and other areas, which could have detrimental effects on the safety o the patient, up to and including death (Wachter, 2008). This may result in an increase in civil litigations, with healthcare institutions being accused of negligence. All in all, it could cause immense loses to the healthcare institutions both in terms of finances and reputation.
Developing best practice for patient safety
The development of best practice for patient safety would necessitate that a full audit of the qualifications or credentials of all staff in the medical centers is carried out. This would be both in terms of academic qualifications and experience (Byers & White, 2004). Once it has been established, the healthcare institutions would carry out investigations on the hiring criteria and structures to determine the areas where there may be loopholes (Wachter, 2008). These would have to undergo a complete overhaul to prevent the occurrence of the same in the future. In addition, the unqualified staff would have to be asked to undertake the requisite courses, and have a certain level of experience if they wish to continue working in the healthcare industry. This would be the only way of ensuring patient safety in the healthcare sector.
Wachter, R. M. (2008). Understanding patient safety. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Byers, J. F., & White, S. V. (2004). Patient safety: Principles and practice. New York, NY: Springer.