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Patient Safety: Caring for the Public’s Health

The safety of patients has been a global issue of concern especially for nurses as they work towards preventing the harm to be done to the patients receiving the treatment. Patient safety concerns have continued adversely eroding the trust that the public has in the nurses and healthcare profession as a whole. Research by Resar (2006) suggested that about 11.3% of adverse events were recorded in the Intensive care Units (ICU), while 2.4% were observed at the outpatient sections of the healthcare centers. Shareck (2006) asserts that 56% of these safety concerns can be prevented. It is vital to note that nurses play a vital role in ensuring that their patients get the adequate healthcare services through the utilization of patient-health safety strategies and interventions. MarCarthy (2009) asserts that the unsafe use as well as prescription of medicine by giving wrong dosages and types of medicine is one of the patient safety issues that nurses should be concerned of. In addition, the types of errors experienced are classified in relation to the domain, and/or according to the nature in which they occur.

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The main causes of harm include the latent failures, which come about due to poor decision making that affects the objectives of the health facility policies, resource allocation and the nursing procedures. Secondly, the safety issues may arise because of active failure, which relates to the direct contact between the nurse and the patient (Lucy, 2001). Thirdly, failure in the systems of health care facility is attributed to mismanagement, the organizational culture, knowledge transfer and other related external factors that possibly affect the safety of the patients. Patient safety could also be compromised through technical failure of the healthcare equipments (Lundy, 2009).

Modern nursing trends to emphasize on the utilization of information technology in sharing the information among the nursing teams. Information technology in all fields, nursing included, has been identified to improve efficiency. Therefore, if used in hospitals and other healthcare centers, it will hasten the delivery of nursing services. It will also lead to the enhancement of teamwork, thus playing a vital role in increasing the patient safety. In addition to this, the inclusion of simulation training in the nursing curricular is vital as it aids in the development of experienced nurses. On the other hand, the increased collaboration among the nursing staff and other physicians is imperative (Lucy, 2001).

Most authors fail to give illustrations as to how the simulation mode of training is to be included in a given nursing curriculum. In addition, the writers fail to indicate how the lack of corporation among the nurses and other physicians leads to issues that are more critical to patient safety in health institutions (Weick, 2007).

Cultural theory is effectively utilized in the analysis of the patient safety among the nurses. The cultural theory, as asserted by ANCC (2008), provides a magnetic component and the structural processes as well as outcomes that are essential in the alignment of the nursing culture that augments patient safety. Cultural theory provides suggestions to the enhancement of effective communication, which involves the collaboration between nurses and physicians as a factor that contributes to the magnetic status of the nursing culture on patient safety (ANCC, 2008). The magnetic status is essential as it provides an ideal framework that results in excellence in nursing, thus aligning the nursing culture on the patient as well as work place safety. It is further suggested that the Dynamic System Model (DSM) describes the modes of interaction between the individual and system as well as its benefits and gives a thorough interpretation of the impact the system has on the patient safety culture. Moreover, it is concluded that the decrease in the system benefits is a result of increased individual benefits. Through this model, the cultural theory provides for the need to migrate to safer nursing practices which include adequate staffing, effective resource management skills, resource allocation as well as capacity building and professionalism of the nursing staff as some of the solutions to curb the patient safety issues in the health facilities (Benner, 2011).

Stannard (2010) suggests that it is the responsibility of the nurse to recognize and alleviate the hazards existing in the nursing profession; aiming at improving patient safety. The assigning of roles, excellence frameworks, educational preparations, as well as the provision of models that aid in the identification and promotion of a nursing safety patient culture are means through which radical change in the nursing profession is done (Weick, 2007). There is a need for the provisions of structures to be able not only to recognize the hazards but also to give effective and adequate guidelines to all the important nursing practices (Sammer, 2010). On the other hand, simulation based training has been widely practiced and advised as a solution towards the mitigation of nursing errors and enhancing the clinical outcomes. The notable lack of its inclusion in the medical training institutions and health care curricular has since lead to the appearance of health care nursing professionals that do not have adequate experience (Vogus, 2010).

In conclusion, patient safety is a foremost concern for all the interested parties, such as health institutions, healthcare professionals and those seeking health services. Cultural theory is the most appropriate supposition to explain, analyze, and predict safety of patients, as well as a real issue in healthcare. Nurses must be proactive in identifying and addressing patient safety problems. They should incorporate information technology and consistent training in their line of duty to be up to date with trending practices.

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American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). (2008). Magnet recognition program: Application manual. Washington, DC: American Nurses Publishing.

Benner, P. H. K. (2011). Clinical wisdom and interventions in acute and critical care. A thinking-in-action approach. (2nd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Lucy, C. &. (2001). Contemporary challenges facing nurses; a look at nursing homes in the United States. New York: County Press.

Lundy, K. S. (2009). Community health nursing : caring for the public’s health. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

MarCarthy, M. (2009). Hospital Administration and its Challenges. Nursing Journal, 46, 15-32.

Resar, R. S. (2006). A trigger tool to identify adverse events in the intensive care unit. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 32(10) , 585–590.

Sammer, C. L. (2010). What is patient safety culture? A review of the literature. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42(2), 156-165.

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Shareck, P. H. (2006). Adverse events in the neonatal intensive care unit: Development, testing, and findings of an NICU-focused trigger tool to identify harm in North American NICUs. Pediatrics, 118(4), 1332–1340.

Vogus, T. S. (2010). Doing no harm: Enabling, enacting, and elaborating a culture of safety in health care. Academy of Management Perspectives, 24(4), 60–77.

Weick, K. E. (2007). Managing the unexpected: Resilient performance in an age of uncertainty. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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