Quality and Safety in Nursing Practice: Safety
In nursing practice, the safety competency is all about doing no harm to the patient and provider often by following the right procedures and monitoring the system’s performance for efficiency, as well as ensuring peak individual performance amongst the practitioners and their support systems. Integrating safety into the nursing practice, education and research is paramount to the effectiveness of the profession in so many ways as will be discussed in this paper. But before that, it is necessary to consider the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are related to this particular competence. The paper will then discuss the implications of integration with respect to the working environment.
Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes
In safety, knowledge implies understanding the factors that create unsafe working environments including bad equipment, rare language and abbreviation, lack of reliable means of recording information other than the human memory, as well as miscommunication or closed communication channels, and finding solutions to these problems (Vogus, Sutcliffe & Weick, 2011). This is also about seeking a thorough cost – benefit analysis of the safety enhancing technologies in order to ensure that they actually improve safety and not just making the working environment complex for nothing. In addition, strategizing on measures that can be taken to ensure that there is adequate communication, proper use of abbreviations, and rather better ways of recording information. Defining and acknowledging other safety hazards within the work environment and coming up with measures to curb them and mitigate the facility against their negative impacts is also a great factor in the knowledge component of safety as a competence. Understanding the causes of human errors and coming up with relevant sustainable solutions to these challenges also constitute knowledge and as such are all very important to the nursing field.
Monarch (2005) states that skills in safety are mainly about the effective and appropriate use of equipment and strategies in a way that ensures that no harm is done. This means being competent in terms of technology, and also being fully knowledgeable on the strategies of operation within the facility. As such, among the important skills are effective communication, use of checklists, effective reporting to patient, family and health care teams to avoid misunderstandings, root cause analysis to understand the mechanism behind any safety challenges, and the use of evidence based practice and nursing guides where required. Skills are all about what the practitioner does or can do in order to ensure that they are safe, and so is the patient and their families within the health care facility.
Attitudes on the other hand refer to the outlook that the nursing practitioner must have in order to ensure safety. They must be able to appreciate the value of standardization in nursing practice as well as the limitations of the human mind in memorizing and coming up with effective solutions all the time. The practitioner must also play their role in the prevention of errors within the facility while valuing the role of the patient, families and colleagues in as far as monitoring and cross checking is concerned. In addition, they must be able to appreciate the significance of the national safety campaigns and their positive impacts upon implementation in practice.
Importance of Integration
Integrating safety into nursing practice, education and research has a lot of significant implications for the instructor, practitioner, patient and the facility’s management. These are discussed below in detail.
In nursing practice, safety ensures that the patients and the nurses are all taken care of in terms of their wellness. By preventing accidents, the integration of safety ensures that there are no injuries or accidents that could affect the patient or the practitioner within the health care facility. Also, it ensures the costs are kept at a minimum by preventing unexpected situations such as new infections or new conditions brought about by errors in medication or sanitization or anything similar. The main point here is that by ensuring that the health care facility is safe for both the patient and the practitioner, the facility is able to save time and money by cutting down on the time taken to treat the patient, time lost by an injured practitioner and the amount of money used in litigation or in extra treatment for conditions that could have been avoided.
In nursing education, safety ensures that the competence is inculcated into the practitioner at an early stage of their training so that they can embed it into their practice once they qualify. It is also important to note that teaching about safety ensures that the students are able to learn about the national standards early and thus they can spend their time during practice consulting more on evidence based practice and other things rather than having to go back to safety practices at that stage. This thus provides more time for advanced learning after the training.
Grol, Berwick and Wensing (2008) note that safety in research is mostly about promoting reliability and bringing down the cost of research in the nursing profession. Considering that the researcher protects himself or herself and the participants, a lot of unwanted circumstances including new infections on both sides are prevented thus limiting the miscellaneous costs in the research budget. It also assures the participants that they are protected and thus will come to no harm during the study. This ensures that they are willing to cooperate and thus help the scientific community and humanity as a whole by providing the relevant data for a given investigation. Safety here also prevents errors by ensuring that the possible errors are caught on time. This then translates into results that are not only very reliable but also largely replicable onto another sample population, making them relevant in drawing a generalized conclusion.
Implications of Integration to the Working Environment
In the work environment, the first implication of integrating safety would be the increased patient satisfaction. When the practitioners practice safely, they are able to treat the patients without endangering their lives thus making them happy customers. Another implication would be the reduced operational costs that come from not having too many infections and accidents happening within the health care facility. As such, the patients are likely to need less time to recuperate and the practitioners will stay healthy thus not needing time off due to illnesses. Also, the hospital being safe will ensure that they have the right reputation in the health care field thus improving on their market position and customer loyalty. All these are positive factors that would result from an effective implementation of the safety competence in a health care facility.
Safety is by far the most important competence in health care given the amount of danger the patients and practitioners are exposed to on a daily basis. Without the right strategies and techniques, a lot could go wrong within the health care facility thus implying the need for vigilance on the part of the practitioners, the patients and their families. This is basically because without air tight systems in place, humans are likely to make innocent mistakes in the line of duty thus the need for monitoring and reminding one another on the processes that are required. As such, another component of safety would be in communicating effectively with the patient and their family members on the course of treatment so as to ensure that everyone knows what to expect and can thus raise the alarm when something is amiss.