Healthcare workers who suffer psychological or physical harm in the workplace are much more likely to experience the frustration and burnout that can lead to medical errors, according to the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation.
In a newly released 39-page report, Through the Eyes of the Workforce (PDF)
, the 11-member institute issued a call to action on workplace safety, urging healthcare organizations to adopt a set of seven strategies, including the adoption of an explicit goal to eliminate harm to the workforce and patients, and the commitment to creating a high-reliability organization that emphasizes teamwork and transparency.
This is the third report from the institute, which has released similar sets of recommended strategies for integrating safety into medical education and accelerating care integration.
“The basic precondition of a safe workplace is protection of the physical and psychological safety of the workforce,” Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury secretary, chairman and CEO of Alcoa
, and a member of the institute, said in a news release. “Most healthcare organizations have done little to support the common contention that 'people are our most important asset.'”
Many healthcare workers routinely face psychologically harmful conditions, including bullying, “creating a culture of fear and intimidation that saps joy and meaning from work,” the authors wrote in the report.
Workers also face physical harm at rates much higher than that of other industries, they added.
“The costs of burnout, litigation, lost work hours, employee turnover, and the inability to attract new-comers to caring professions are wasteful and add to the burden of illness,” according to the report. “Disrespectful treatment of workers increases the risk of patient injury.”
The report is the result of two Lucian Leape Institute roundtables on the subject, led by O'Neill and Julianne Morath, chief quality and safety officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.