Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Safe and secure

“Nurses, no matter where they practice, should understand the methods used to assess the quality and safety of their practice”

With health care reform targeting quality healthcare coverage, it is expected that Medicare and Medicaid payment will be tied to patient outcomes. “Nursing is one of the most influential professions in the delivery of healthcare. The understanding of how to assess the quality of care and the effectiveness of patient safety measures is of utmost importance for nurses, now more than ever,” says Kathy D. Gray-Siracusa, Ph.D., R.N., M.B.A., NEA-BC, assistant professor, Villanova University College of Nursing, whose research advances the safety agenda. She designed the graduate level nursing course Quality Improvement and Patient Safety initially offered in fall 2009. It provides students with a comprehensive understanding of patient safety and its relationship to quality improvement concepts and department management. Emphasis is placed on leadership characteristics essential to creating and sustaining a culture of safety within the health care organization.

The 1999 release of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) seminal report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (http://www.nap.edu/books/0309068371/html),ignited an increase in the movement of hospitals reforming how they operate to increase patient safety. The report estimates that at least 44,000 and up to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year from preventable medical errors. The total financial cost of errors nationally may be as high as $29 billion per year. Creating a culture of safety is a critical issue for hospitals and other health care settings where improvements are being made in such areas as injury prevention, patient identification procedures and medication safety. They are learning from “sentinel events” – unexpected occurrences resulting in death or serious injury such as the loss of a limb—and correcting antecedent situations, thus preventing a future event.

“This course is required for all Graduate Nursing students in the Healthcare Administration Track and is strongly recommended as an elective for all others including nursing education, nurse practitioner and nurse anesthesia students,” Dr. Gray-Siracusa explains. It also attracts students from the business school. Students learn how the elements of quality management, risk management, as well as data management and general management skills , including process mapping, root cause analysis, and benchmarking, are integrated to produce an effective and efficient system to monitor and improve care. “Nurses, no matter where they practice, should understand the methods used to assess the quality and safety of their practice,” she affirms.

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