Patient Safety Strategies Every Healthcare Organization Should Consider

For all the work conducted worldwide to improve patient safety, we wondered if there was evidence to support the universal implementation of a handful of patient safety strategies.

10 24 18 Blog

For all the work conducted worldwide to improve patient safety, we wondered if there was evidence to support the universal implementation of a handful of patient safety strategies.

The answer? Absolutely.

In fact, two organizations – the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) – have provided definitive patient safety strategies in the last five years.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

In a special supplement to the March 4, 2013, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, author Paul G. Shekelle, MD, PhD, and several of his colleagues, presented a list of 10 strategies that could dramatically enhance patient safety and reduce preventable patient harm by reducing medication errors, healthcare-associated infections, and bed sores. This top 10 list was the result of four years of evidence-based assessments into 79 patient safety strategies that were initially identified in the 2001 AHRQ report, Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices.

Healthcare leaders have hailed the list of 10 as not only effective and important, but also critical to the reduction of medical errors.

AHRQ's Top 10 Patient Safety Strategies

  • Preoperative and anesthesia checklists to reduce operative and postoperative events.
  • Bundles, including checklists, to reduce septicemia associated with central lines.
  • Catheter reminders, stop orders, nurse-initiated removal protocols, and other interventions to limit urinary catheter use.
  • Bundles to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia, including head-of-bed elevation, sedation vacations, oral care with chlorhexidine, and subglottic suctioning endotracheal tubes.
  • Hand hygiene.
  • Do-not-use list for hazardous abbreviations.
  • Multicomponent interventions to help prevent pressure ulcers.
  • Barrier precautions to reduce healthcare-associated infections.
  • Central line placement guided by real-time ultrasonography.
  • Strategies to improve venous thromboembolism prophylaxis.

Deepening the Connection Between Workforce Safety and Patient Safety

The link between employee and patient safety is an issue that the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has been calling attention to since 2013. In NPSF's Lucian Leape Institute Report, "Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care," it was asserted that the most fundamental precondition to patient safety is workforce safety. If your healthcare workers are at risk, then your patients are at risk, too. It’s as simple as that.

To deepen the connect between workforce safety and patient safety, the NPSF suggests the following seven strategies:

  1. Develop and embody shared core values of mutual respect and civility, transparency and truth telling, safety of all workers and patients, and alignment and accountability from the boardroom through the front lines.
  2. Adopt the explicit aim to eliminate harm to the workforce and to patients.
  3. Commit to creating a high-reliability organization (HRO) and demonstrate the discipline to achieve highly reliable performance.
  4. Create a learning and improvement system and adopt evidence-based management skills for reliability.
  5. Establish data capture, database and performance metrics for accountability and improvement.
  6. Recognize and celebrate the work and accomplishments of the workforce regularly and with high visibility.
  7. Support industry-wide research to design and conduct studies that will explore issues and conditions in health care that are harming our workforce and our patients.

How Datix Can Help

The NPSF’s seven strategies are aligned with the Datix toolkit of Capture, Evaluate, Strategy, Implement, and Assess. Through this toolkit, which is embedded in our patient safety and risk management software applications, we help healthcare organizations become learning organizations. Through easy data capture and robust analytical tools, our software not only shows where improvements can be made, but also helps you identify underlying causes and recommend changes to overcome them.

Combining the 17 strategies listed above with Datix software is a powerful one-two punch for reducing preventable patient harm.

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We will respond to your query and deal with your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you are an organisation already benefitting from, or likely to benefit from, Datix’s products and services, we may get in touch with you to consider this further.