Nurses are still hesitant to speak up when docs make errors

Patient safety has been a focus for how many years? And still...healthcare workers remain hesitant to speak up when doctors make mistakes or take dangerous shortcuts, finds yet another study. This one comes from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Although safety tools and checklists have become mandatory in hospitals, they aren't sufficient by themselves to prevent medical errors, according to the group's findings. Poor communication, disrespectful coworkers and lousy teamwork hinders their effectiveness, however, and negatively impacts patient outcomes.

The tools themselves are working, as 85 percent of those surveyed said safety tools in the OR have warned them of a potential hazard to a patient. However, more than half (58 percent) were afraid to speak up about the hazard.

In particular, 84 percent said their colleagues take dangerous shortcuts, yet only 17 percent have shared their concerns. Eighty-two percent said incompetence led to near misses or patient harm, but only 11 percent have spoken to the incompetent colleague. And while 85 percent said their coworkers show poor teamwork or act disrespectfully, only 16 percent shared concerns with that person.

"There is more work needed in the OR to support the surgical team's ability to establish a culture of safety where all members can openly discuss errors, process improvements or system issues without fear of reprisal," said AORN Executive Director and CEO Linda Groah.

Healthcare leaders need to futher improve people's ability to hold crucial conversations in the hospital, although the study notes that progress has been made.

"Compared with what we learned in 2005, nurses now speak up at much better rates," said Kristin Peterson, cardiac clinical nurse specialist and president of the association that sponsored the study. "They are now nearly three times more likely to have spoken directly to the person and shared their full concerns."

For more:
- read the National Journal article
- here's the study
- here's the press release

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