Dear Mr. President,
You have announced the start of numerous reforms in the US healthcare system, which is likely to result in the considerable improvement of the system and public health. Being a healthcare professional, I understand that certain changes are vital. One of these is associated with patient safety standards that are still far from being well-designed and properly implemented. I would like to draw your attention to three areas that need to be taken into account when developing the new law.
One of the areas is associated with the use of software in US healthcare facilities. Magrabi et al. (2013) claim that the existing standards are not effective and should be reconsidered. The significant issues to address are interoperability, security, privacy, and functionality. Privacy issues can be regarded as central as it is clear that various systems can be damaged and people’s data can be used improperly.
At the same time, interoperability is another gap as many healthcare facilities use several systems separately instead of trying to use one unified system. This situation occurs as there are no effective standards that would regulate the use of the software, it’s quality and possible outcomes, and so on.
Another area of concern is the prevalence of medical errors. Numerous standards are aimed at eliminating errors, but they persist. Baldwin and Rodriguez (2016) note that the verification nurse (a nurse designated to verify chemotherapy orders in a healthcare facility) enhances patient safety. The post of a verification nurse can seem superfluous, but it is essential for many departments. It is possible to develop certain standards regulating the designation of the verification nurse in some departments.
Verification nurses can be vital when it comes to treating chronic conditions. The introduction of the new post is associated with additional funds that are scarce, but the costs associated with medical errors are significantly higher. Therefore, it can be effective to include some standards associated with the verification nurse’s activities.
Finally, it is also important to introduce effective standards concerning nurse shifts’ length. Working hours have been closely related to the rate of medical errors (Griffiths et al., 2014). Griffiths et al. (2014) stress that many healthcare facilities have a significant degree of flexibility when developing shift lengths for employees. Irrespective of the shortage of healthcare professionals, it is ineffective and even harmful to try to address this problem making people work longer hours. It has been acknowledged that these attempts lead to an increase in the number of medical errors and deterioration of patient safety.
It is important to tie safety patient standards to working conditions standards as it will help improve the situation. Healthcare facilities should be unable to use prolonged shifts as a way to address staff shortages.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that software standardization, working hours’ regulation, and the introduction of new posts should become a part of the new law. These areas are associated with patient safety that needs to be improved. Although some of these initiatives require the allocation of additional funds, they are likely to minimize the rate of medical errors and improve patient safety. To develop sound regulations, further research will be needed, but it is already clear that the steps offered will be effective and will lead to positive changes in the healthcare system.
Baldwin, A., & Rodriguez, E. S. (2016). Improving patient safety with error identification in chemotherapy orders by verification nurses. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 20(1), 59-65.
Griffiths, P., Dall’Ora, C., Simon, M., Ball, J., Lindqvist, R., Rafferty, A…. Aiken, L. (2014). Nurses’ shift length and overtime working in 12 European countries. Medical Care, 52(11), 975-981.
Magrabi, F., Aarts, J., Nohr, C., Baker, M., Harrison, S., Pelayo, S…. Coiera, E. (2013). A comparative review of patient safety initiatives for national health information technology. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 82(5), e139-e148.