Nurses Work Environment and Patient Safety

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Nurses Work Environment and Patient Safety

New report show progress, but problems remain

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Since the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) issued the landmark report “Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses” back in 2003, there have been many advances in healthcare quality. Back then, nurses’ typical working environment posed many serious threats to patient safety. The IOM report offered specific recommendation for how institutions could reduce those risks.

How much progress has been made? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and George Washington University decided to find out. They recently released an update brief summarizing the changes that have taken place since the original IOM report.

Happy Nurses = Healthy Patients

There have been definite improvements. Hospitals now have clearer, more rigorously enforced codes of conduct. Interdepartmental and interdisciplinary collaboration is improving. Some states have established rules on safe staffing and similar measures are now appearing on the federal agenda.

Dr Linda Burnes BoltonNonetheless, much still remains to be done. “Chaotic and inefficient care environments contribute to job dissatisfaction, nursing staff turnover and a diminished institutional capacity to provide high-quality care,” says Cedars-Sinai Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Linda Burnes Bolton, RN, DPH, FAAN (pictured right). “If we are truly committed to keeping patients safe, creating and sustaining healthy work environments for nurses is essential.”

Room for Improvement    

The update offers a number of specific recommendations for further improvements, including:
1.    Monitoring nurse staffing to ensure that all healthcare settings are adequately staffed with appropriately educated, licensed and certified personnel

2.    Creating institutional cultures that foster professionalism and curb disruptions

3.    Harnessing nurse leadership at all levels of administration and governance

4.    Educating the current and future nursing workforce to work in teams and better communicate across all the health professions.

To read the full report, click here for a downloadable PDF.   

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