A culture of safety can keep healthcare workers safe, directly influencing their ability to help patients achieve better clinical results. Caregiver injury rates are linked to a shortage in care and less time engaging the patient at the bedside, which is linked to negative patient outcomes. High safety standards can also bolster a hospital’s reputation and patient satisfaction levels.
“Fostering a positive safety culture is vital to employee satisfaction, which is key in improving impactful healthcare delivery,” said Alleen Wilson, Senior Risk Control Manager at Safety National. “This approach helps organizations reduce turnover and increases positive patient outcomes by enhancing employee to patient engagement.”
The following tips can assist healthcare risk managers in prioritizing both employee satisfaction and patient safety.
1. Establish a Safe Patient Handling Program
Lack of a safe patient handling (SPH) program can result in overexertion, the leading cause of workplace injury for healthcare employees. The use of lifting equipment is essential to a successful SPH program and has been shown to reduce exposure to manual lifting injuries by up to 95%. In addition to reducing worker injuries, an SPH program can increase patient satisfaction and comfort, decrease patient falls and pressure ulcers, and reduce the costs associated with those injuries. The elements of a successful SPH program include:
- Commitment from both management and staff at all levels.
- Hazard assessments that address high-risk areas and units.
- Methods that control hazards such as lifting, transferring and repositioning patients.
- Ongoing education and training for each staff member.
2. Ensure that Employees Know and Understand Safety Policies
Implementing a safety policy is a great starting point, but employees need to understand their role in prevention methods. Encouraging employees to report safety hazards or utilizing an “if you see it, you own it” policy is one of the easiest ways to prevent potential injury. To design and implement a policy and evaluate and sustain it into the future, the frontline (non-managerial) employees who provide direct care to patients should be well-represented on a safety committee. Keeping the lines of communication open between management and staff provides an environment where all parties feel safe to report hazards.
3. Incorporate Workplace Violence Prevention Methods
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 8 – 38% of healthcare workers suffer physical violence throughout their careers, with patient-to-staff violence accounting for 80% of all incidents. Workplace violence and disruptive behaviors are barriers to fostering a culture of safety and are considered a public health threat. Specific state laws require healthcare employers to ensure a safe environment for patients and nurses by preventing workplace violence before it happens through written policies and programs. Staff training involving de-escalation and self-defense methods can also play a critical role in violence prevention. Identifying high-risk areas, completing incident forms, assessing your program regularly and having readily available access to law enforcement contacts can also aid in reducing violence.