Many problems in the medical care system have a common ground. Some researchers conclude that the absence of a safety culture is the root of the most prominent healthcare issues. They suggest that this obstacle affects both workers and patients. However, the link is not obvious. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the importance of safety culture and its connection with other problems in the medical care system.
The Importance of Safety Culture
One of the most contributing factors to the death rate in the United States is medical errors. These unintended actions might lead to both imminent deaths and a shortening of life expectancy. The main cause of incidents like this is poor safety culture among medical care staff. Different examples have been thoroughly studied and present a quite ominous picture. Violating infection control rules, documentation and diagnostic errors, and injuries as the result of a bad handoff are not the complete list of problems encountered. Hence, the importance of improving this situation is obvious.
Various studies confirm that a properly established administration process has a crucial impact on safety in the medical care system. There are well-known principles and practices, which strengthen safety culture. They have to be applied methodically to obtain the best results. First, “the availability of appropriate protective equipment” increases safety in healthcare settings (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d., para. 5). A well-equipped workplace is a measure, which commences the process of cultivating safety culture. Engaging employees “in safety planning” is another important step (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d., para. 5). It might be performed in the form of training programs that help to gain adequate medical competence. A similar practice was applied at my workplace. All nurses were subjected to undergo training related to the prevention of catheter-associated bloodstream infection. The resulting decrease in the number of infected patients justified this measure. Among other initiatives, the management program needs to include creating “group norms regarding acceptable safety practices” (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d., para. 5). Ensuring compliance with common rules leads to the growth of general awareness. The administration in a hospital I worked at obligated the staff to pass the examination of the knowledge of hospital regulations and job descriptions. Also, another important aspect is the training of new personnel (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d.). It is necessary not only to maintain established principles but also to develop this system.
Also, it is impossible to create a safe environment without patients participating. Interdependence of staff and patients is one of the most prominent factors affecting safe behavior. Medical care staff is at constant risk of infestation due to exposure to airborne bacteria and viruses, and sharps injuries. During the time I worked in a hospital, two cases of hepatitis infection through syringe cuts occurred. Another significant aspect is an unequipped patient lift, which causes back problems and contamination through the drops of sweat (NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council, 2017). In addition, I personally encountered many cases of violent behavior that occurred during the communication with patients or their relatives. These issues also require interaction and hinder the establishment of a safe healthcare system.
A comprehensive approach should also consider the problem of the priority of staff health. Workers have to understand that their condition directly correlates with the number of errors committed. Therefore, it is highly important to prevent injuries sustained during work shifts.
A culture of safety in healthcare settings is a complicated concept consisting of different attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and skills. This system has an enormous impact on healthcare outcomes. There is a variety of strategies designed to improve safety conditions. However, a number of medical organizations ignore them. Hence, it is a task of high priority to implement such management systems throughout the country and focus on minimizing the damage caused by the lack of safety culture.
NORA Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council, (2017). For occupational safety and health research and practice in the U.S. healthcare and social assistance (HCSA) sector. Web.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (n.d.). Organizational safety culture – Linking patient and worker safety. Web.