Improving Nurse and Patient Safety: Best Practices for the Nursing Administrator

Nursing administration professionals have many responsibilities, but one of the most important is supporting and improving nurse and patient safety. Nursing administrators do more than ensure employees follow safety rules. They work to create a culture where safety is a top priority, encouraging nurses to speak up about safety issues so patients receive the best care possible.

For example, Radford University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration program offers a Quality & Safety in Healthcare course that explores quality and safety strategies used to optimize health outcomes. This course also focuses on the advanced practice nurse’s role in leading such organizational initiatives.

Common Nurse and Patient Safety Concerns

Without a safe work environment, nurse professionals cannot provide adequate care. Safety concerns impact nurses and patients in several ways, including adverse events, musculoskeletal injuries, burnout and mental health issues:

Adverse Events

Adverse events in healthcare are unintended incidents that can cause injury or even death to patients. These events often involve dispensing the wrong medication or dosage, healthcare-associated infections, surgical complications and patient falls. Adverse events can also have severe consequences for nurses and healthcare professionals, leading to emotional distress and legal issues.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “1 in every 10 patients is harmed in health care and more than 3 million deaths occur annually due to unsafe care.” The WHO estimates that more than half the harm from adverse events is preventable. Nurse administrators must identify the causes of these events and take steps to stop them from happening.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Nurses are at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Lifting and moving patients — as well as repetitive tasks and inefficient workflows — can result in strains, sprains and back pain, notes the American Nurses Association (ANA). These injuries can impact nurses’ ability to do their jobs effectively and lead to long-term health problems.

Burnout and Mental Health

High levels of stress, long work hours and exposure to traumatic events can take a toll on nurses’ mental well-being. If left without support, nurses dealing with these factors may experience burnout, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

How Can Nursing Administrators Support Safety Initiatives?

Nursing administrators are instrumental in supporting safety initiatives. To do so, an article published in “Health SA Gesondheid” notes that nurse leaders “must understand the influence that the hospital climate factors, cultural diversity, patient safety risk and ‘just’ culture practices have on positive patient outcomes and sustaining a culture of safety.”

Nursing administrators can support safety initiatives by implementing evidence-based practices and policies to prevent adverse events and promote patient well-being. These may include establishing standardized protocols for medication administration, infection control and patient monitoring.

They must also consider how factors like leadership styles and communication methods may hinder better safety. Promoting a “just” culture, where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and improve, not blame, can encourage open communication that may keep errors from happening again.

This way, nurses and other teammates feel comfortable raising concerns. As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states, “Safety demands an obligation to remain non-punitive in detecting, reporting, and analyzing errors, possible exposures and near misses when they occur.” Improving safety in one area often has a synergistic effect in others, adds the AACN.

Can Nurse Administrators Reduce Safety Risks by Population?

Nurse administrators should adopt safety plans based on patient needs, settings and cultural considerations. For example, they may focus on fall prevention for elderly hospital patients and prioritize medication management in outpatient clinics. In addition, they may offer language assistance for cultural differences to enhance patients’ understanding and treatment adherence.

In healthcare, the well-being of both nurses and patients should take priority. Nursing administrators can improve safety efforts by taking the time to understand their patients and gathering feedback from their team. Through programs like Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration, future nurse leaders explore ways to maintain top safety standards in their organizations.

Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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