Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Researcher Looks At Education, Experience of Staff and Safety

To Err Is Human Blog Series Logo

This post is part of our two-week series commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the seminal IOM Report "To Err Is Human." To see all posts in the series, please click here.

Nancy Donaldson is Director of the Center for Nursing Research & Innovation, a collaboration between the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, its UCSF Medical Center, Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

I have observed a transformational revolution in health care during the 10 years that have passed since the IOM released its landmark report, To Err Is Human. That report estimated that as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of preventable medical errors. It also casts a harsh light on delays or lapses in care that can threaten patient safety and challenges all health care providers to examine the quality, safety and outcomes of their care.

More and more hospitals today have recognized the impact of on patient care quality and outcomes—from preventing falls, to exercising their expert clinical judgment to rescue recovering surgical patients from treatable complications.

That’s what we hope to learn more about in our INQRI-funded research study of hospitals participating in the California Nursing Outcomes Database Project, the nation’s first ongoing benchmarking quality database in the nation. Our study, co-led by Carolyn Aydin PhD, will examine how the configuration of direct care nursing staff at the unit level may affect the prevention of falls, pressure ulcers, medication administration errors or blood stream infections arising from the experience of hospitalization. Previous studies have noted how important the registered nurse is to patient care safety and outcomes. Our study explores, in more detail, how the education, experience or expert certification of the staff may influence patient care processes and outcomes.

We hope our study will assist clinical and administrative leaders, and staff themselves, to better understand factors that produce safe staffing and ultimately the safest patient care.

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