Nurses' reported that widespread job dissatisfaction may in part reflect how medical errors are identified and how responsibility for them is assigned, according to a study in the June American Journal of Nursing. The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and involved interviews, surveys and case studies at 29 rural hospitals in nine states over three years. Some 90% of healthcare professionals believe nurses have primary responsibility for patient safety, but nurses are considered key decisionmakers in patient care by only 8% of doctors, according to the study.
In addition, "healthcare providers don't share the same definitions (of errors) and do not tend to recognize the same kind of situations as errors," said Ann Freeman Cook, lead author and director of the National Rural Bioethics Project at the University of Montana. While adverse events associated largely with nursing roles, such as dosage miscalculations, are generally considered errors, missed diagnoses or delayed treatment by physicians often are not, she added. The gap in viewpoints hinders patient-safety improvements, she said. Read an abstract of the study.-- by Susanna Moon