Physicians who perform a high volume of complex technical procedures can help avoid preventable complications, according to a new evidence report summary released Friday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Nurse staffing levels and the quality of communications systems are some additional specific working conditions that affect outcomes related to patient safety, the report says, and other working conditions impact medical error rates.
The report was based on a review of 115 existing studies in healthcare and nonhealthcare settings by the Evidence-based Practice Center of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.
Working conditions were classified into five categories: workforce staffing, workflow design, personal/social factors, physical environment and organizational factors.
The researchers conclude that the scientific literature supports the following specific recommendations about approaches to improving patient safety:
- Strategies to increase staffing levels of licensed and unlicensed nurses in both acute care hospitals and nursing homes will likely lead to improved patient outcomes.
- Preventable complications are less likely when complex procedures are performed by physicians who conduct them frequently.
- A health professional's length of experience is associated with better patient outcomes for some types of clinical care.
- Fewer interruptions and distractions will likely reduce the incidence of medical errors.
- Systems to improve information exchange and the "hand-off" of care between hospital and nonhospital settings can decrease medication errors and, in some settings, hospital re-admissions.
- Levels of ambient noise in health care settings do not adversely affect patient safety.
The final report is expected to be available later this spring. Meanwhile, a summary of the report is available on the AHRQ Web site.