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Hospital patients deserve a safe environment

Patient safety in hospitals must be a priority. These institutions must have measures in place to ensure that anyone who is admitted or undergoes outpatient tests and procedures can remain safe. In hospital settings, even one small error or a single employee who doesn't do their job correctly can cause catastrophic results for patients.

The burden for patient safety falls on the facility, not the patient. It is up to the hospital administration to make sure all workers have a good understanding of what is necessary to keep patients out of harm. Here are some common obstacles to patient safety.

Staff-to-patient ratios

Patient safety can be compromised when there aren't enough nurses on duty. Hospitals should keep track of the nurse-to-patient ratio to ensure that patients can get the care they need right away. For every patient over the standard ratio for care, there is a 7 percent increase in mortality for the patients, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Some units of the hospital require lower nurse-to-patient ratios. For example, the intensive care unit might need one nurse for every patient. Some can get away with a 1:2 ratio, depending on patients' needs. Hospitals should err on the side of caution when it comes to staffing. It is better for a nurse to have too few patients than to have too many.

Burnout is dangerous

Nurses who are overworked, such as those who must work mandatory overtime or who have too many patients on a shift, might make errors that harm patients. Overworked doctors can cause serious problems, too.

Duties outside of interactions

Some people forget that doctors or nurses spend only a fraction of their time on clinical work. In the case of doctors, only around 27 percent of their time is spent with a patient. During the period of interaction, they are entering information into the electronic health record for an estimated 37 percent of the visit. A doctor, or even a nurse, who is busy with a computer might miss vital points from the patient.

Hospitals are profitable entities. At the very least, they owe patients a commitment to the highest standards of safety and service.

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