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The Symbiotic Relationship Between Patient and Worker Safety in the Healthcare Setting
Recent Publication by the Joint Commission
Improving Patient and Worker Safety
Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation Health care professionals whose focus is on patient safety are very familiar with these alarming and frequently cited statistics from the Institute of Medicine: medical errors result in the death of between 44,000 and 98,000 patients every year. 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.
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? How can improvement efforts be coordinated for the benefit of all?
This monograph is intended to stimulate greater awareness of the potential synergies between patient and worker health and safety activities. Using actual case studies, it describes a range of topic areas and settings in which opportunities exist to improve
patient safety and worker health and safety activities. This monograph is designed to bridge safety-related concepts and topics that are often siloed within the specific disciplines of patient safety/quality improvement and occupational health and safety.
This monograph includes information about the following:
- High reliability in health care organizations and benefits to improving safety for both patients and workers
- Management principles, strategies, and tools that advance patient and worker safety and contribute to high reliability
- Specific case examples of activities and interventions to improve safety
- Key themes and action steps to meet challenges and achieve success
This monograph was developed in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council and supported in part by a contract from this program.