Next Generation Patient Safety: Keeping Nurses Safe Too (212)

9:45 am – 10:45 am Friday, September 16
Nursing is a dangerous profession. Nurses are at risk for physical, emotional, and legal consequences, which may manifest in various concerning ways. Compared with the general population, the rate of completed suicide is double for nurses and considerably higher than other healthcare workers. Many nurses experience occupational violence committed by patients, families, or even colleagues. Much of the abuse goes unreported.
The literature has well documented the emotional consequences of providing care to children and young adults with cancer and severe blood disorders; however, little has been done to combat this extensive problem. Criminal litigation for clinical errors is a new and frightening danger. Despite the substantial risks to nurses, limited tools are widely available to prevent and respond to these occupational hazards. Fortunately, there are innovative strategies to mitigate patient risks that can be adapted to protect nurses. Patient safety has been a principal priority for several decades. Early safety work was largely reactive, focusing on evaluating systems and personal accountability to respond to events. While these early methods were essential in reducing patient harm, the field is now maturing into more proactive, affirmative techniques. Many of these tactics can be effectively applied to mitigate occupational risks experienced by nurses. Trauma-informed care principles and second victim programs can help address emotional distress. Training in de-escalation techniques can provide physical safety for nurses providing care during volatile interactions. Many older tools are being revised with new philosophies. Safety-II and Appreciative Inquiry are strengths-based viewpoints that address risk through building on successes. New tools are on the horizon drawing from behavioral economics theory and reflective responses. Each of these strategies can and should be used to protect nurses. Nurses are essential. There cannot be adequate patient safety without addressing nurse safety.
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