Nurses’ Role in Patient Safety
Side rails. 10 R’s. Disinfection of IV ports. These are just basic terms that we often hear being endorsed in seminars and trainings, are repeated over and over back in nursing school and are encountered in the clinical setting. For some, these are just insignificant practices that take up too much time, and are only done due to tradition. For others, they don’t warrant attention and are oftentimes overlooked due to the busy atmosphere in hospitals.
Patient safety is considered as one of the crucial and fundamental components of quality nursing care. It is not a new issue in the nursing field. It has raised questions, practice reviews and amendments for nurses for years. Studies and researches are conducted, as well as standards and protocols are being formulated over the years to ensure that quality care is maintained at all times and that patient satisfaction is achieved. However, not all nurses take patient safety seriously.
As nurses, we are on the best position to improve quality care and patient safety since we come in direct contact with patients. However, being a hands-on profession, we are also the ones prone to committing errors in patient care. We administer medications, coordinate courses of care and perform various treatments as ordered. These slip-ups, no matter how small they may be, may have detrimental results to safe patient care. Growing evidence suggests that an undesirable number of patients are injured every day in health care. In fact, a report shows that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year due to of lapses in patient safety (Institute of Medicine, 1999). Patients come to the hospital and surrender their full trust to members of the health care team as they are assured of the nourishment of their health. With their admission comes their expectation of being safe from other diseases and a better health ahead.
We, as primary health caregivers in the hospital, hold the duty of ensuring that no harm happens to our patients during their entire stay. Other members of the health team may be around to interact with, examine and move them, but their roles are nothing like nurses who are around 24/7 to cater bedside needs of patients. Nurses control the environment patients live in as they stay in the hospital. By simply being aware of hospital and standard protocols, understanding the rationale behind certain procedures and recognizing where and when in the care process mishaps take place, we can change courses of care to resolve them and avoid further harm.
A simple gesture counts when handling patients. Raising side rails, double checking medications before administration and considering safety precautions when performing nursing procedures may be a little bit mainstream, but when it comes to dealing lives they make a whole lot difference.