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Archive June 2016 XVII, No. 6

How Safe Are Your Patients?

Our survey shows you have a long way to go to provide the level of quality and safety that your patients deserve.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


quality and safety for patients UH-OH Nearly 40% of the nurses and techs we surveyed say procedures sometimes commence without a pre-surgical hard stop.

Your surgical team is constantly striving to maintain a perfect safety record that patients expect and demand. It's a challenge they can't always meet, according to the findings that emerged from our patient safety survey of nearly 500 surgical facility leaders.

  • Shortcuts. Nearly one-third of respondents say they see physicians and staff members taking shortcuts that could affect safety, either often (3%) or occasionally (27%), and only around one-fourth (24%) say they never see anyone taking shortcuts.
  • Speaking up. While most respondents say staff members are comfortable speaking up when they see something that might compromise safety, many admit they sometimes hesitate.
  • Time outs. Highly recommended and well-publicized measures intended to improve communication and safety — such as time outs — are still a long way from being universally accepted and adopted.
  • Never events. Nearly half (44%) of respondents admit that their facilities have experienced a never event, such as wrong-site surgery.
  • Arrogance. Most physicians, managers and nurses think they're better at their jobs than their co-workers think they are.
  • Blame game. Most managers say they always emphasize learning over blame, but most nurses aren't sure that's true.

There's also some good news. More than 90% of respondents say they and their co-workers are always (73%) or usually (21%) actively looking for ways to improve patient safety. And those percentages are similar across the board for physicians, facility leaders, nurses and technicians.

With other issues, however, responses vary dramatically, depending on who's answering the question. For example, more than half of physicians (52%) and nearly two-thirds of facility leaders (64%) say everyone's ideas and suggestions are always encouraged, heard and valued. But only about one-third of nurses and technicians (32%) agree. "No one listens or has respect for other professionals' opinion or advice," one RN tells us. "We are to do what management says and not to think out of the box," insists another.

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