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Improving patient and worker safety: opportunities for synergy, collaboration and innovation.

The Joint Commission
Improving patient and worker safety: opportunities for synergy, collaboration and innovation. The Joint Commission Monograph. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: The Joint Commission, 2012 Nov; :1-162
Health care professionals whose focus is on patient safety are very familiar with these alarming and frequently cited statistics: Medical errors result in the death of between 44,000 and 98,000 patients every year. First released in the 1999 landmark report by the Institute of Medicine, "To Err Is Human, Building a Safer Health System," these numbers captured the attention of health care leaders and spearheaded a widely publicized patient safety movement over the past two decades. That movement continues today. Health care professionals whose focus is on occupational health and safety, however, are likely aware of additional statistics that are less well known: Health care workers experience some of the highest rates of nonfatal occupational illness and injury - exceeding even construction and manufacturing industries. Furthermore, a recent report based on health care claims data indicates that hospital workers have higher health risks and are more likely to be diagnosed and hospitalized for chronic medical conditions. What do these statistics tell us about safety for both patients and workers in the health care environment? Is there a connection between worker safety and patient safety? Are there synergies between the efforts to improve patient safety and efforts to improve worker safety? According to Merriam-Webster, synergy is a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements. How can improvement efforts be coordinated for the benefit of all? This monograph will explore these pressing issues. Monograph Purpose: This monograph is intended to stimulate greater awareness of the potential synergies between patient and worker health and safety activities. It will describe a range of topic areas and settings in which synergies exist between patient safety and worker health and safety activities. The monograph will also describe the importance of safety culture and why high reliability organizations are concerned with safety for both patients and health care workers. In addition, the monograph will do the following: 1) Highlight examples of health care organization practices that address patient and worker safety simultaneously and the benefits and potential cost savings attained through collaboration between employee and patient safety departments; 2) Identify structural and functional management systems and processes that have been used to successfully integrate health and safety activities; 3) Describe barriers to recognizing and addressing patient and worker safety issues and suggest strategies for overcoming the barriers by making safety a priority; 4) Recommend action steps that health care organizations can take to improve safety for both patients and workers; and, finally, 5) the monograph will identify topics for future research. You will also find examples of resources for additional information at the end of sections.
Health-care; Health-care-personnel; Medical-care; Medical-personnel; Work-practices; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-climate; Health-hazards; Synergism; Injury-prevention; Disease-prevention; Work-organization; Management-personnel
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Healthcare and Social Assistance
Source Name
Improving patient and worker safety: opportunities for synergy, collaboration and innovation
Performing Organization
The Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division