Patient Safety

The importance of the healthcare sector cannot be understated as far as
the overall wellbeing of a nation’s economy is concerned. This is
especially considering that only healthy people would have the mental
and physical capacity to create wealth in any sector or at least guide
the creation of wealth. This could explain why the health sector has
been benefiting from increased funding from both the government and the
private sector. Nevertheless, it is evident that the healthcare sector
faces a number of challenges, chief among which revolves around ensuring
high degrees of patient safety. Indeed, patient safety comes as one of
the most serious public health issues in the entire globe, with
statistics showing that about one out of every 10 patients is harmed in
the course of receiving hospital care in the developed countries such as
the United States (Byers & White, 2004). Of course, the risk is higher
in developing countries than in developed countries, with some
developing countries having as much as 20 times higher risks of
infections associated with healthcare than in their developed
While there may be varied patient safety issues, the biggest concern
revolves around the unavailability of properly trained staff. Indeed,
recent times have seen a reduction in the enrolment of individuals in
medical schools (Wachter, 2008). This has resulted in a sharp reduction
in the number of properly trained staff in the healthcare sector, and
especially the operating room. Scholars have noted that this would
become highly evident in surgery centers, which have been forced to hire
Operations Room staff with no training whatsoever on the operating room
(Byers & White, 2004). Some of these may be nurse practitioners with no
experience and training whatsoever in the operating room. It is worth
noting that such staff would need at least 3-5 years of operating room
experience before they can be left on their own (Wachter, 2008). As much
as the reduction of students taking up medical training may have caused
the influx of untrained or sub-trained staff in the healthcare industry
in general and operating rooms in particular, scholars have noted that
some institutions are motivated by the desire to cut on their expenses
(Byers & White, 2004). Indeed, untrained staff will always be hired at a
relatively lower wage or salary compared to their trained counterparts.
This issue has far-reaching impacts on patient safety. It results in an
increase in mistakes in the operating room and other areas, which could
have detrimental effects on the safety o the patient, up to and
including death (Wachter, 2008). This may result in an increase in civil
litigations, with healthcare institutions being accused of negligence.
All in all, it could cause immense loses to the healthcare institutions
both in terms of finances and reputation.
Developing best practice for patient safety
The development of best practice for patient safety would necessitate
that a full audit of the qualifications or credentials of all staff in
the medical centers is carried out. This would be both in terms of
academic qualifications and experience (Byers & White, 2004). Once it
has been established, the healthcare institutions would carry out
investigations on the hiring criteria and structures to determine the
areas where there may be loopholes (Wachter, 2008). These would have to
undergo a complete overhaul to prevent the occurrence of the same in the
future. In addition, the unqualified staff would have to be asked to
undertake the requisite courses, and have a certain level of experience
if they wish to continue working in the healthcare industry. This would
be the only way of ensuring patient safety in the healthcare sector.
Wachter, R. M. (2008). Understanding patient safety. New York:
McGraw-Hill Medical.
Byers, J. F., & White, S. V. (2004). Patient safety: Principles and
practice. New York, NY: Springer.

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