Becker’s Hospital Review is one of the top healthcare related publications in the country, and as such, they have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the US and points of interests for healthcare professionals. At the start of the year, they posted an article about the top five safety issues facing hospitals in 2022. Here we’ll review their top points of concern and help you evaluate if your facility is on the right path.
1. Foundational safety work
First on the list is their concern for just basic safety protocol in hospitals. At the start of the pandemic, efforts were increased significantly to address the quickly-spreading virus. As the healthcare industry has learned how to manage COVID-19 and as the novelty of the virus has worn off, hospitals have become more lax in basic foundational safety procedures. They quote Patricia McGaffigan, RN, vice president of safety programs for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, as saying, “It's really critical that the systems are still in place for people to be able to speak up, for the right training to happen and to continue to build a culture of safety, regardless of what's happening in hospitals.” They also refer readers to this tool from the IHI that can help you assess your facility’s safety culture.
2. Supporting the healthcare workforce
Here, they explain how hospitals must strive to serve not just patients, but employees, too. The workforce within a hospital is its lifeblood. If employees are underappreciated, overworked, and hate their jobs, then your hospital is going to have loads of staff turnover and that’s going to negatively impact patient care and results, which will negatively impact your hospital’s reputation. It is of utmost importance to support your workforce as they support their patients. Ensure their safety however possible, be sure they are being compensated appropriately, and show them that they are greatly appreciated in tangible ways.
3. Integrating equity into safety work
Becker’s now explains that they believe hospitals should take issues relating to equity into account when considering safety measures and protocols. While the term “equity” has become a media-driven buzz word, there is something to be said for ensuring that you facility treats all people with the same level of respect and care and that any failures to do so be addressed quickly and decisively.
4. Diagnostic harm
According to the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the pandemic increased the chance of diagnostic errors (defined as missed, delayed, and incorrect diagnoses) due to staff shortages, high levels of stress, chaotic and time-pressured work environments, and plain old burnout. While Becker’s reports that there is not yet any national data to quantify the pandemic's effect on diagnostic harm, they also acknowledge that this was an issue prior to COVID-19. Seeing as how hospitals are still short on staff, prone to high levels of stress, and often pretty chaotic by nature, it stands to reason that diagnostic errors are still a safety issue to monitor.
5. Healthcare-associated infections
One study by the CDC published to Cambridge University Press reported that the incidence of HAIs had increased since the onset of the pandemic. It further states, “These data highlight the need to return to conventional infection prevention and control practices and build resiliency in these programs to withstand future pandemics.” The global staffing shortages and the sudden tremendous increase of patients created the perfect situation for non-COVID-19 viruses to spread unhindered. That cannot go on; the spread of HAIs must be stopped so that patients can continue to trust that hospitals are places they can receive care and not walk away sicker than when they first visited. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) addressed this increase and urged the need for further training of staff.
These five issues can be pivotal in distinguishing your hospital as one that puts patients first and does everything possible to ensure their health and wellbeing.