Skip to content

Patient Safety in Nursing

Medical errors are a medical professional’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, they are also quite common. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, patient mortality due to medical errors was noted as the third leading cause of death in the United States within the last five years.

While improving medical errors can be a complex issue,  several reliable strategies can help significantly reduce incidence rates. For many hospitals, the road to better outcomes begins with the implementation of improved patient safety protocols. If designed and deployed effectively, these protocols empower healthcare administrators to learn from past mistakes, improve the trustworthiness of their medical staff, minimize errors, and, most importantly, reduce patient mortality rates.

What is Patient Safety in Nursing?

Understanding patient safety in nursing is the first step towards reducing the risk of medical errors. Patient safety has been defined by the Institute of Medicine simply as “the prevention of harm to patients.” Others have expanded on this definition, emphasizing the need to promote patient safety through the creation of a care delivery system that focuses on preventing errors and learning from those that occur. A robust, successful patient safety strategy will use evidence-based outcomes to constantly improve patient safety protocols and establish an enduring culture of learning and improvement.

Nurses are a crucial part of any hospital’s efforts to improve patient safety. Nurses have the most direct interaction with patients of any healthcare professional—they consistently monitor patients’ conditions, administer medication, and communicate self-care and discharge information. Because nurses are directly involved with patients on a day-to-day, often hourly level, improving their ability to provide accurate, high-quality care is paramount to the success of any holistic patient safety strategy.

But while nurses play a vital role in patient safety, they are certainly not alone. Patient safety must be viewed as a collaborative effort, one that hospital administrators, doctors, and physicians’ assistants are equally engaged in. Only when all healthcare professionals commit to reducing medical errors will meaningful, measurable improvements be made.

How do Nurses Ensure Patient Safety in the Hospital?

An effective approach for improving patient safety measures in nursing must be tailored to nurses and the unique role they play in providing bedside care. Many nurses find it helpful to break patient safety down into a set of tangible tactics geared towards minimizing medical errors and improving patient outcomes, including:

Monitoring Patients

A patient’s medical condition can change in the blink of an eye, meaning nurses must be prepared to quickly identify any complications that arise. Continuing education significantly improves nurses’ patient monitoring skills, helping them better understand the nuances of wound progression, pressure ulcers, and other bedside conditions so that they can spot complications before they become dangerous.

Access to new technology also helps nurses monitor patients more effectively. While bedside alarms are commonplace in most hospital settings, technological innovations like medicine barcode scanning and laser temperature checks continue to improve the quality of patient monitoring.

Educating Patients

Patients’ lack of compliance with their post-discharge self-care routine, including wound management, medication regimens, and occupational therapy, is a common source of preventable error in healthcare. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, medication errors are present in approximately 50% of patients once they are discharged. More specifically, a study found that 59.2% of cardiac patients had a misunderstanding in indication, dose, or frequency of their cardiac medication.

Educating patients on their post-discharge care is a simple, yet effective, example of how nurses can improve patient safety. By working with patients to ensure they have a thorough understanding of their medical condition and self-care routine before they are discharged, nurses help facilitate a smooth recovery. If patients seem unable to recall or comprehend their outpatient care requirements, it may be necessary for nurses to ensure compliance with a family member.

Assisting Physicians

Despite their laser focus on a patient’s condition, physicians are still susceptible to human error. In the operating room and beyond, nurses serve, among many roles, as an extra pair of eyes, ready to call a timeout before the physician makes a mistake.

To help doctors avoid mistakes whenever possible, nurses must maintain a keen understanding of each patient’s existing medical record and any procedure they are receiving. This heightened awareness will empower nurses to more readily identify conflicting medications or surgical risks that could put the patient in jeopardy.

How do Nurses Promote Patient Safety?

Promoting patient safety in nursing requires the cultivation of intentional communication and collaboration—a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of leaders within the hospital’s nursing department. In a healthy workplace environment, effective nurse administrators will applaud those who strive to diligently minimize medical errors and alert others when errors have occurred, setting the tone for a respectful, transparent medical team.

On the contrary, administrators that partake in shaming their employees for making honest mistakes or calling attention to the mistakes of others will only stifle communication. Afraid to speak up, employees will sweep mistakes under the rug, directly jeopardizing patient safety. This type of fear-induced workplace culture adds a layer of stress to an already high-stress profession, further impacting a nurse’s ability to effectively care for their patients.

Professional Nursing Organizations

There are more than 100 different national and international nursing organizations, many of which have chapters in Oregon. You may want to consider the benefits

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

How a nurse is improving health equity with a touch of a button

This article is shared from Johnson+Johnson's Nursing website. LINK Watch a special TODAY show segment featuring nurse innovator Bre Loughlin, MS, RN This segment features

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Now Hiring – Assistant to the President

Sumner College is accepting applications for the position of Assistant to the President. Visit the Careers at Sumner page for details on the position and

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Now Hiring – General Education/ Science Instructor

Sumner College is accepting applications for a general education/science instructor position that is part time and hybrid. Job Description - General Education/Science Instructor - Part

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Bringing Well-Being into the Workplace

For healthcare to work, it takes a thriving nurse workforce. From nurse-led solutions to evidence-backed guidelines, innovation in workplace well-being isn't just possible, it's happening.

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Thanksgiving Memorable Recipes from Sumner College’s Team

Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for friends, family and business associates. This year, the Sumner College team is sharing a few delicious, must-have,

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Why Phlebotomy is a Good Career

Entering this field as a phlebotomist offers one of the fastest entry routes and is one of the few positions that does not require a bachelor's

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

5 Ways to Reduce Test Stress

Article shared fro GreatSchools.org Does your child get stressed about taking standardized tests? Follow this checklist to help ease their worries. In many states children

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

# Hiring – Accreditation and Compliance Officer – Remote

Sumner College has been educating leaders in workforce for almost 50 years in the Portland metro area. Join a team that is passionate about educating

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Common Hospice Terminology

Article shared from AllNurses.com Blogger A hospice terminology guide for every nurse to review in order to correctly address and educate patients and families facing

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Is Tiktok the New Dr. Google?

Article is shared from AllNurses.com blog. Who do you follow AND listen to for medical advice? Tiktok has taken the world by storm. According to

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Meal Prep Ideas for Health Professionals

Article shared from The Nurse Break If you’re a nurse or student and have found this page then WELCOME! AMs, PMs, Late Earlies, Night Duty…25

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Tips for Coping with Nursing School Stress

If you are looking to become a nurse, you’ve probably been doing a lot of research about programs and schools. Earning a Bachelor of Science

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

RN to BSN 100% Online -Start October 31st

Sumner College RN to BSN program offers registered nurses the flexibility to complete their bachelor's degree without ever stepping foot on campus. The Online RN to

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Phlebotomy Program – 8 weeks

The Phlebotomy program at Sumner College focuses on providing the skills, knowledge and clinical competence you need to work in this field in a safe,

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

October 31st – Medical Assisting Class – Enroll Today

The Sumner College Medical Assisting program can get your career started in the medical field in a few as 8 months. We still have spots

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Nursing Student Must Haves and Essentials for Nursing School

Article and links courtesy of NurseSecrets.com *Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” Being a new nursing

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Breaking News – Sumner College Adding PN Enrollments to the 10/31 Cohort!

Are you still interested in pursuing your LPN? If it has been a little while since you considered your career/college development and have still have

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Now Hiring: Clinical Coordinator for Nursing Program

Job Description of Clinical Coordinator: The Clinical Coordinator is responsible for acquiring and maintaining clinical sites for student clinical and preceptorship experiences. They work with

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Now Hiring: Nurse Educator Part-Time

Job Summary: The Nurse Educator will teach, guide students in their labs, along with enhancing the design of the curriculum. This person will also be

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Now Hiring: Administrative Assistant, Nursing Programs

Sumner College is looking for our next Administrative Assistant for the Nursing Program. The primary responsibilities are assisting the Senior Administrative Assistant and Department Chair

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Becoming A Pediatric Nurse

Content shared from Society of Pediatric Nurses Website. Pediatric nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) who care for children of all ages in a variety of

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Skilled Medical Specialists – Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists are skilled medical specialists who study in drawing blood. Blood tests can offer data concerning a patient’s health -- phlebotomists play a vital role

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Medical Assistant – A springboard into a field that allows you to make a difference.

It’s a natural to assume that landing a job in health care requires years of study and training. While that’s true for many medical careers,

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

FNSNA 2023 Online Scholarship

Undergraduate scholarships are available to students currently enrolled in a state-approved nursing program leading to an associate degree, baccalaureate, diploma, direct-entry master’s degree, RN to

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

5 Ways Johnson & Johnson Is Working to Improve the Well-Being of the World by 2025

Johnson & Johnson's 2020 Health for Humanity Report details the progress it's made in the past five years in driving sustainable social, environmental and economic

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

Nurses Change Lives

Throughout history, nurses have brought innovation to patient care that has profoundly changed human health. For over 120 years, Johnson & Johnson has been proud

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

The Important Role of a Phlebotomist in Healthcare

Phlebotomy has been a part of medical care for centuries. Because drawing and handling blood samples are very crucial and strictly requires accuracy all the

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

A Career As A Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are becoming more common for women and mothers across the nation.  Overall employment of Nurse Midwives is projected to grow 45% from

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn

BSN Jobs

WHAT KIND OF JOBS CAN YOU GET WITH A BSN? A bachelor of science in nursing will prepare you for a wide variety of job

Share at FacebookShare at TwitterShare at PinterestShare at LinkedIn