Employee Engagement in Hospitals Linked to Patient Safety

The most well-known patient safety research project ever released is the “To Err is Human” report from the U.S. Institute of Medicine. You can download your own free copy of the report here.

One statistic in particular from the study is often shared by patient safety advocates. The report noted that each and every year nearly 100,000 patients are killed by preventable medical errors. The figure is helpful is quickly illustrating the scope of the medical mistake problem. While most doctors, nurses, and aides do their best to provide proper care, the sad reality is that we still have a very long way to go before all medical patients receive reasonable care free of mistakes every time they visit medical professionals.

To Err is Human was first released in 1999. However, follow-up studies from the Institute of Medicine and many other researchers has found that little has changed in the last thirteen years. Tens of thousands of patients continue to be killed and many more injured each and every year as a result of various errors in medical care. It is incumbent upon all practitioners and administrators to do everything in their power to improve patient safety figures.

It is important that a comprehensive approach to these safety efforts be undertaken. There are many different steps that can be taken to improve the quality of patient care overall. For example, one new report suggests that overall employee engagement in medical work settings has statistically significant effects on limiting medical errors.

New Patient Safety Report

Research published in the latest issue of Journal of Patient Safety suggest that the overall work environment at these facilities affects the quality of the work and, consequently, the number of mistakes that are made which harm patients. Researchers examined various factors at healthcare institutions over a two-year period, from 2007 to 2009. They then compared those figures with rates of medical mistakes and preventable adverse medical outcomes.

The results are striking. Most notably, researchers found that the single biggest predictor of quality care was engagement. The authors noted that “Baseline engagement and change in engagement were the strongest independent predictors of patient safety culture.” In other words, medical facilities which fostered communities where employees were connected with the goings-on of the hospital and actively involved in its organization were far more likely to provide error-free care time and again.

The report is yet another reminder of the need for comprehensive efforts to address the patient safety problem. With all of the political wrangling around tort reform and debates about various aspects of the legal system, the underlying problem of medical errors is often forgotten. It is critical to change that by sharing information about the hundreds of thousands of patients who are still affected by this problem.

Part of that public awareness and accountability function is served by patients and families coming forward when they suspect they were harmed by poor medical care. Nothing can be improved when problems are swept under the rug. If you or someone you know may have been hurt by poor care in our area, consider getting in touch with the medical malpractice lawyers at our firm to see how we can help.

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