The healthcare system needs to build reward, recognition and accountability into front-line patient care to meet goals for preventing medical errors and reducing healthcare-associated infections, clinical nurse specialist and consultant Kathleen Vollman told an audience of infection-prevention professionals Wednesday.
Consultant urges culture shift for healthcare system
The CMS' move in 2008 to stop reimbursing healthcare facilities for care that involved a preventable medical error was a step in the right direction, said Vollman, who gave the final keynote address at the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. “They finally put the carrot and stick in the right place,” she said.
But much work remains, in particular at the organizational level, Vollman added. Without a culture that promotes taking responsibility for medical errors and recognizing when safety targets are met, any safety-focused practice change that a healthcare organization makes is likely to be “just considered another layer of work,” she said.
“If we continue to do what we've always done, we're likely to get the same result,” said Vollman, who from 1989 to 2003 worked as a clinical nurse specialist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “Part of the IP role is to shake things up.”
To improve patient safety at the front lines, for example, patient advocacy needs to be redefined as providing the best care to prevent harm—reflecting a broad focus on vital but less “sexy” care elements such as hand hygiene and catheter care, Vollman said.
“There are areas where we have to push,” she said.
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