Patient Safety and Care



PatientSafety and Care

PatientSafety and Care

Safety is aprimary concern for various healthcare institutions andprofessionals. The ability to receive good quality healthcare, in anyfacility without the risk of any incidents, is also a criticalconsideration of patients as they seek medical help. Nurses have anobligation and duty of care to ensure they offer safe services tothose who require medical attention. They will thus have to work withthe other stakeholders in the industry, such as hospitals,pharmacists, and even governmental institution, to ensure they offerthe best services. The paper explores the role of nurses in enhancingsafe environments for patients and some of the related policies thathelp them to achieve this.

TheRole of Nurses in Safe Patient Care

Up to 100,000incidents of death are reported annually due to errors from thehospital staff (Council on Clinical Affairs, 2013). Besides the highmortality rate, a significant number of the population also gets aninfection from the hospital as they receive treatment for otherdiseases. Since nurses are among the primary healthcare providers inthe country they play a fundamental role in ensuring the safety ofthese patients. One of the principal roles that the nurses play inensuring safe practices is to ensure that they avoid physicalinjuries during treatment procedures that are intended to help them.Nurses will often make medical errors during treatment due to avariety of reasons. These include the failure to follow therecommended procedures for treatment, giving the wrong medication,failing to supervise patients who may fall or self-injure themselvesor making unintended mistakes (Council on Clinical Affairs, 2013). Itis imperative to also understand some of the causes of these errors,which may include fatigue, flawed procedures or systems, inadequatestaffing in a hospital or interruptions during work.

The nurses alsohave a responsibility of providing care to their patients accordingto scientific knowledge or evidence-based practices. This involvesintegrating nurses` experience and expertise on a particular issuewith patient values and evidence acquired from research. Using thisevidence-based form of nursing will ensure that each patient receivesthe best clinical services that they can get. Nursing professionalsalso have the duty to offer patient-centered care where the needs andpreferences of the patient are considered during the treatmentprocess. All the decisions made during this period should also beguided by patient values, which the nurses need to integrate intotheir delivery services.

Othercontributions that the nurses have include offering timely andequitable care where the quality of services given to patients is notinfluenced by race, social status or gender. Timely services duringtreatment require the nurses to offer their services immediately thuseliminating any harmful delays that may lead to injuries amongpatients. These duties that are tasked upon the nurses in a hospitalenhance the level of patient safety while improving the level of carethat they offer.

AContrast of Health Policies on Patient Safety

The high rate ofinjury and death that arises from medical errors has prompted anumber of policies and practices that aim at stemming the issue. TheEmergency and medical treatment and labor act is one of the pastpolicies that was formed to improve patient safety and care (Meyer,2016). It was developed due to the rampant cases of discriminationthat patients received in hospitals for reasons, such as theirsocio-economic status. The turning down of clients especially duringemergency situations for such reasons as highlighted above was a riskto the lives of these patients. The benefits of treating orstabilizing a patient in such a case far outweighs the risk as anytransfers of emergency patients to another hospital puts them at risk(Meyer, 2016). This legislation addresses one of the most fundamentalissues in the medical world as many fatalities have occurred due toneglect to treat people.

The Council onClinical Affairs (2013) also made individual policies to address thesafety of children during their oral health treatment. It advocatesfor the following of policy, procedures and practices in dentalhealth that ought to prevent the spread of infections from thepatient to the service provider or to other patients. It alsorequires the constant inspection of the physical facilities to ensurethey are safe for the patient (Council on Clinical Affairs, 2013).The policy document proposes the need for emergency and fireprotocols in case of any safety threats. The Patient Safety andQuality Improvement Act (2005) is also an example of a policydocument that continues to impact safe practices in hospitals. Theact formed a network of organizations that continue to advocate forsafe practices in health institutions and created a database wherepeople can discuss their experiences. All of these policies addresscertain aspects of patient safety thereby showing the extensivenature of the issue.

EthicalIssues and Decisions in Addressing Patient Safety

There arenumerous ethical concerns that arise from nurses’ daily practice oftaking care of patients. One of these is that nurses are tasked withthe responsibility of preventing harm and promoting the health ofthese patients. The patients are unable to make independent decisionsas they must receive information from the nurses. The decisions andactions of these nurses are thus likely to put the patients at risk.This is, especially, true if medical errors occur and the nurses haveto decide whether to report these issues or keep quiet. The patient`sreliance on healthcare providers is an ethical since their well-beingdepends on decisions that they make.

Nurses areexpected to tell the truth and be honest about any decision that theymake especially, those conclusions that may causes medical errors(Walton &amp Barraclough, 2011). The relationship between thesemedical professions and their patients is built upon the promise oftrust and honesty. A sick person is unable to make an informeddecision regarding their health if they do not have information abouttheir health. This ethical concern arises where an error is made anda nurse has to choose whether to reveal the problem. Even thoughthese nurses have the mandate to report medical errors as soon asthey occur, such an action will present a number of professionalconsequences. The fear of receiving blame for a mistake or beingreprimanded over the issue may prompt the nurses to keep quiet overan issue.

The systemsapproach versus accosting nurses individually is also an ethicalconcern. The systems theory posits that the individuals do not makeerrors in any capacity but are put in such a position by faultydesigns. Under this approach, clinical executives and managers aretouted to be responsible for any medical errors in a hospital (Walton&amp Barraclough, 2011). However, the nurses are not absolved fromof any responsibility and if they make any mistake they have toreport it for any investigations. The principal rationale for usingthe systems approach is due to the amount of control that themanagement has in decision making and creating any procedures thatnurses use (Walton &amp Barraclough, 2011). It is thus impossible tounderstand and decide who is to blame for these medical errors.

PatientHealth Systems in the UK and Canada

The NationalHealth Service in the UK places a large emphasis on patient safety intheir healthcare systems. It has instituted a number of measures toensure that the patients receive the best services in hospitals.According to Cowper (2016), the organization made a number ofinitiatives in 2014 to reduce avoidable injuries by half. Theseincluded inviting each NHS group to assert a commitment to patientsafety and to reveal their policies on the issue publicly. It alsorecruited 5,000 agents who would help steer change by identifying andreporting unsafe environment. The National Institute for Health andCare Excellence (NICE), which was established in 1999, sets outstandards for healthcare professionals. It espouses the use ofevidence-based practice on topics, such as preventing particularconditions, providing social care to ad hoc groups, and managingmedicines (Healthcare UK, 2016).

According toBaker et al. (2011), the governing board of health associations andorganizations in Canada are the ones responsible for accounting forthe performance of their hospitals. They also provide oversight ondecisions made by the management of their member hospitals. Recentinquiries by the government and the need to improve safety haveprompted these boards to get concerned about the performance of theirinstitutions (Baker et al., 2011). A number of methods have beenproposed to improve patient safety in the country, such as changingthe composition of these board members to ensure they have qualifiedmembers. These organizations are also creating plans to ensurepatients are safe in hospitals. The Canadian patient safety instituteraises awareness on the essence of patient safety and also helps indeveloping policies relating to the same.


Safety inhospitals is a highly sensitive issue as medical errors always end upin injuries or even death. Nurses play an integral role in thismatter since they are the primary caregivers in health institutions.However, this responsibility also leads to some ethical issues sincethe reporting of medical errors is likely to result in professionalsanctions. Other countries, such as the UK and Canada, have madenumerous strides in addressing patient safety through creatinginitiatives.


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Walton, M., &amp Barraclough, B. (2011). Patient safetycurriculum guide multi-professional edition. Malta: World HealthOrganization.