Patient Safety Programs Ineffective, Most Nurses Say

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , March 12, 2013

Nurses see themselves as the gate-keepers of patient safety, but many believe that the culture inside their hospitals actually keeps them from achieving patient safety goals.

They say poor communication, ineffective programs, and punitive environments are hampering patient safety efforts.

Those are some of the findings from a survey of 900 practicing registered nurses by the ANA and GE Healthcare. The survey, which queried 500 nurses in the United States, 200 in the United Kingdom, and 200 in China, finds that few nurses would call their hospitals "safe."

One of the most striking findings is the apparent chasm between the existence of hospital patient safety programs and their perceived effectiveness. For example, 94% of nurses surveyed say that their hospitals have programs in place that promote patient safety, which on the surface is great news; these programs are probably something that the execs at these institutions brag about.

However, nurses—90% of whom consider themselves most responsible for patient safety, over physicians (69%) and patient safety officers (60%)—don't seem enthusiastic about the effectiveness of their hospital's patient safety programs.

Only 41% of nurses describe the hospital they work in as "safe." Just over half of nurses (57%) believe that the patient safety programs in their hospital are effective.

Whether these programs exist doesn't seem to affect nurses' perceptions of patient safety as much as the factors that affect how the programs are actually put in to practice. For example, in theory, patient safety programs might rely on error reporting and discussing these errors as a team.

In practice, however, error reporting often doesn't occur because nurses are afraid they'll be penalized for making mistakes. The survey found that although 90% of nurses say it's important to have a culture where nurses are not penalized for reporting errors or near misses, 59% agree that nurses often hold back reporting patient errors in fear of punishment. Most nurses (62%) say the same about reporting near-misses.

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

4 comments on "Patient Safety Programs Ineffective, Most Nurses Say"

Beth Ulrich (3/24/2013 at 11:39 AM)
Could you please provide us information on the survey for the data you cited? Thanks!

Beth Boynton, RN, MS (3/21/2013 at 1:40 PM)
Thanks for your great article. I was compelled to write a blogpost about it. Seems too long for a comment? Here's the link:

MaryAnn Foley (3/15/2013 at 12:54 PM)
The private- for profit psychiatric hospital that I work for pays "lip service" to its safety program, focusing on preventing patient falls. Yet, when I verbalized my concern, and followed up with a written concern, their solution to "my problem" would be to float me off of my unit on the nights that the floors were stripped, washed and waxed. They totally missed my point-that patients were at risk of slipping on the standing liquid solution used for cleaning.Walking down those wet hallways was "mandatory" for "patient safety". This hospital's leadership lacks critical thinking skills.




FREE e-Newsletters Join the Council Subscribe to HL magazine


100 Winners Circle Suite 300
Brentwood, TN 37027


About | Advertise | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Reprints/Permissions | Contact
© HealthLeaders Media 2016 a division of BLR All rights reserved.