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Can healthcare providers become inspired to speak up for safety?

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to its website, this agency is tasked with improving the quality, effectiveness, safety and efficiency of the American healthcare system. As part of that mission, the AHRQ regularly releases reports on issues affecting patient safety. Many hospitals and safety experts use these reports as inspiration for improving patient outcomes and refining patient safety practices.

The AHRQ recently released a summary of Safety Climate surveys conducted nationwide in 2012. The summary paints a frustrating picture about the state of preventable medical errors and medical malpractice occurring in America today. One issue of particular concern raised by the data is that of communication regarding patient safety violations.

The summary indicates that the majority of healthcare providers will not speak up if an infraction has occurred if someone senior to that provider is involved in the infraction-affected patient situation. Providers will therefore generally speak up only when the infraction-affected situation involves individuals at their level of seniority or lower.

It is critical to the future of patient safety that providers become empowered and inspired to speak up when patient safety protocol is being violated, no matter who is violating the procedure. If providers are trained in assertiveness, team building among various levels of seniority and zero tolerance feedback retaliation policies, the future of patient safety could look far brighter than the present does. If this problem goes unaddressed, it will be patients who suffer the most as a result of inaction.

Source: PRWeb, "Over 50% of Medical Staff Will Not Speak up for Patient Safety: Six Things We Must Do to Fix This," Nov. 18, 2013

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