Close to 2 million healthcare professionals feel unprepared to safely care for patients

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 26, 2019
Close to two million professionals
feel they are ill equipped to care
for patients safely
Almost two million healthcare professionals report feeling unprepared to safely care for patients, due to a lack of resources, according to a survey by the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

The 11 percent of the 18 million American healthcare professionals who make up this group say they are unable to help their organizations achieve a status of "zero harm" in the care they provide due to a lack of tools and necessary training.

“What’s really interesting about this survey is that it shows this is a challenge for health care as a whole, and crosses all specialties and types of care. This means it’s not, for example, found only in the operating room or among a particular type of clinician — it’s actually embedded into the way many organizations deliver health care,” Anne Marie Benedicto, vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, told HCB News. “Whether it’s hospitals, behavioral health organizations or ambulatory care facilities, leaders everywhere want proven strategies and tactics to improve safety for patients, employees and visitors.”

The first step to addressing this issue, according to Benedicto, is acknowledging that the current system no longer works for the resources, care complexity and technology challenges of today. Despite 96 percent of survey respondents indicating that they are "fully committed" to achieving "zero harm" status, only 49 percent say they have the resources to do so, and only 47 percent strongly agree they personally have what they need to care for their patients' safely. More than one out of five said their role was too small to make a big enough impact.

Nearly eight out of 10 professionals named lack of leadership (77 percent) and lack of organization investment (79 percent) as obstacles to healthcare excellence. In addition, 88 percent believe inadequate staffing is the largest barrier, while 54 percent indicated a desire to address nurse-patient ratios, which is plagued by shortages, to improve patient safety.

“My biggest tip would be for leaders to ask themselves: What are we doing to achieve zero harm and build a high reliability system to support our employees and the patients we serve,” said Benedicto. “We have seen firsthand the impact of high reliability processes and procedures on quality and safety. This type of organizational transformation to high reliability care takes leadership commitment, which can have a positive impact on so many areas: employee and patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and even financial performance. Leadership commitment to zero harm is the first step before other necessary changes can occur as organizations pursue high reliability where zero harm is normal.”

The survey was conducted online by TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, among 1,050 healthcare professionals between April 29 and May 3, 2019.

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