Oncology nurses play a critical role in monitoring patient safety. Despite recent improvements in addressing safety gaps, estimates suggest that 1 in every 10 hospitalized patients will acquire a new condition during his or her stay. For patients with cancer—many of whom have weakened immune systems—hospital-acquired conditions could lead to severe quality-of-life issues or increased mortality rates.
National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) reports suggest that 44,000–98,000 annual patient deaths are related to hospital-acquired conditions, and some experts believe that number could be as high as 440,000. Nurses stand at the forefront of patient safety and can positively impact the rate of hospital-acquired conditions.
Ways to Increase Patient Safety
Oncology nurses, administrators, and healthcare institutions can work toward creating a culture of safety to protect their patients. NPSF, as part of its United for Patient Safety campaign, recommends the following measures to create a positive impact on patient safety.
- Establish a culture of safety through leadership. Make patient safety a core value by including patients and family members in efforts to improve care across practice. Educate healthcare workers to be effective partners with their patients and caregivers.
- Use a common set of safety metrics. Develop standardized metrics to measure patient safety and your organization’s commitment to improving it. Look to measure risks and how to proactively address hazardous situations.
- Address safety throughout the care continuum. From the initial visit to final discharge, patients should experience a safe care environment. Working across disciplinary lines can help to achieve positive results and better patient outcomes.
- Provide organizational support for the healthcare workforce. It’s vital for organizations and institutions to support the workforce that’s responsible for patient safety. By resolving staffing issues, morale, personal wellness, and other workforce concerns, healthcare workers can focus on patient safety knowing that their organization is committed to their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
- Engage patients and family members. Patients and their caregivers can be crucial in addressing gaps in patient safety. By encouraging an open and active relationship, you can more easily identify areas of improvement and address them before they become serious problems.
- Incorporate technology. Using healthcare technology is critical to successful treatment, including keeping patients safe from unintended harm. Working closely with information technology professionals can optimize the benefits of technology while eliminate potential risks.
Commit to Safe, Quality Care
Although March is dedicated to patient safety and awareness, it’s a year-round priority. Encouraging dialogue between patients, colleagues, and administrators can help create a culture that addresses safety for patients and practitioners.
Interested in addressing gaps in patient safety? ONS standards of care provide up-to-date evidence-based information for standardizing your practice and creating a safe care environment.