I believe that patient safety cannot be achieved without a focus on patient-centeredness. I also believe the heart and soul of nursing is patient-centered care. Therefore, logic would have it that nurses are at the center of the patient safety challenge! Unfortunately, barriers exist that often impede nurses from delivering patient-centered care, which can create patient safety risks. Factors include: disruptions in workflow at critical points of thinking and decision making, breach of practice protocols, lack of information at the point of decision making, lack of coordinated information during hand-offs, and inadequate staff-to-patient ratio assignments to name a few.
What does the clinician need? …Information for one. However, we are in an age of a knowledge explosion and the human mind cannot singularly manage all the information that an individual is bombarded with at any given point in time…and this is only going to increase over time. Technology should serve as a tool to bring and retrieve information for the clinician at the right time and place (e.g. point of care). Additionally, access to patient information must be boundary-less for patient care decision-making for all members of the care delivery team. Unfortunately, today information is often locked in silos. So where are the keys to unlock the information? What is the model to manage the vast amounts of information in a comprehensible and consumable way for the clinicians? The healthcare information technology industry is developing transformational information models converted into online dashboards and other tools to become the flight radar screen of care.
In today’s busy and hectic care environment, checklists along with patient information and technology at the point of care are not only important but essential to care delivery and decision making. The triple aim of the National Quality Strategy– “Better Care, Healthier Communities and Affordable Care”– has created a central focus on quality and safety in healthcare. Now, with increasing number of Federal initiatives and growing consumer awareness, the expectation bar for high quality and safe care has been raised. Every individual who touches healthcare has the responsibility to challenge the status quo and ask “what are the needed tools and innovations to support clinicians in decision making and deliver care that achieves the highest level of patient safety and quality?” This requires leadership, a “just culture” that supports accountability, is blame free, and non-punitive but also seeks to identify behaviors that lead to patient safety risks, technology enablement and safe practices by all healthcare professionals. Nurses can certainly be a source of that leadership and can provide the foundation for this culture of accountability and enablement. As we engage the key stakeholders in delivering on the promise of exceptional quality and patient safety, it is paramount that we seek and involve nurses in the journey.