Using safety checklists in routine clinical practice would help nurses improve care across a range of key areas, according to the nursing lead of a national patient safety campaign.
International Federation of Perioperative Nurses president Jane Reid said errors in healthcare were often to do with human factors and “non-technical” skills such as communication, situational awareness and leadership.
Ms Reid, who is the perioperative intervention lead for the Patient Safety First campaign, highlighted tools such as the World Health Organization’s safer surgery checklist as proven means of reducing human error (news, 17 February 2009, p1).
She said similar checklists had the potential to improve communication and team working across other areas of nursing practice, resulting in improvements in fundamental areas such as nutrition and pressure area care.
“In complex healthcare environments there is always the risk of assuming that ‘somebody else has done it’. The safer surgery checklist requires everybody to stop at a point in the patient pathway and ask a number of safety critical questions to ensure that critical elements [of care] have been carried out,” Ms Reid told Nursing Times.
She said: “It is about improving communication and the reliability of care that patients receive. For example, we know that if a patient is well nourished, well hydrated, on the right mattress and turned regularly they will not get a pressure sore, or their potential to get a pressure sore is significantly reduced.
“So if they develop a pressure sore that means that one of these things has not been reliably and consistently given to that patient.”
Ms Reid was speaking to Nursing Times ahead of next week’s launch of the “human factors” initiative, the second of four dedicated focus weeks designed by Patient Safety First to help trusts eliminate avoidable death and harm to patients (news, 12 January, p1).