Things Nurses Need to Know About Patient Safety

things-nurses-need-to-know-about-patient-safety_bpAs a nurse, or a soon-to-be nurse, you’ve probably heard the term ‘patient safety’ mentioned many times. You most likely know that patient safety is important, but what is exactly is it, and how do you practice good patient safety?

If you’re asking these same questions, we have the answers for you. We’ve gathered the basics on patient safety and everything you need to know about it.

What is Patient Safety?

According to Pamela Mitchell, author of Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses, “many view quality health care as the overarching umbrella under which patient safety resides. For example, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) considers patient safety ‘indistinguishable from the delivery of quality health care.’”1

Basically patient safety means ensuring patients are getting quality health care that addresses their needs sufficiently. This includes protecting them from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.2

General Tips to Ensure Patient Safety

Pamela points out that “the most critical contribution of nursing to patient safety, in any setting, is the ability to coordinate and integrate the multiple aspects of quality within the care directly provided by nursing, and across the care delivered by others in the setting.”1

There are many aspects to patient safety, which means that nurses must work to provide quality care in multiple different facets to ensure it. While this may seem daunting or difficult to accomplish, Rasmussen College has put together a list of safety tips that can contribute to ensuring patient safety”4

  1. You need to be an active listener
  2. Critical thinking is key
  3. You are the patient’s advocate
  4. You MUST report if things go awry
  5. Never disregard prevention measures
  6. Teamwork is essential

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it is a good place to start.

Medical Errors: How to Avoid Them

A large part of ensuring patient safety is avoiding medical errors. While healthcare professionals are human and are prone to making mistakes, it is also their job to anticipate and prevent medical mistakes and errors from occurring.

Dexter from Minority Nurse reminds us that “it is important for all nurses to become familiar with various strategies to prevent or reduce the likelihood of medication errors.”3 He provides a list of ten strategies to prevent medical errors:

  1. Ensure the five rights of medication administration.
  2. Follow proper medication reconciliation procedures.
  3. Double check—or even triple check—procedures.
  4. Have the physician (or another nurse) read it back.
  5. Consider using a name alert.
  6. Place a zero in front of the decimal point.
  7. Document everything.
  8. Ensure proper storage of medications for proper efficacy.
  9. Learn your institution’s medication administration policies, regulations, and guidelines.
  10. Consider having a drug guide available at all times.

It is important to remember that mistakes do happen. The key thing to do when you make a mistake is to learn from it.

Patient safety is a very important matter in the medical field. As a medical professional, it’s important that you understand what patient safety is and how to promote it,

How does your workplace promote patient safety? Tell us in the comments below!