Safety is an important consideration no matter where you work. Whether you are arriving before the sun rises and leaving after sunset, or protecting your patient’s safety on the unit, there are strategies you can use as a per diem nurse without relying on organizational policy. According to OSHA, hospitals are one of the more hazardous places for employees.
Medication and treatment errors also put millions of patients at risk every year. Nurses are in a unique position to prevent these mistakes and improve patient outcomes. You make a substantial impact on safety, and in many cases, errors are a reflection of a breakdown in teams and systems, and not necessarily a professional, individual issue.
Communication and collaboration with your patients and your co-workers is a key strategy to reduce errors, and accidents. This is also an important tool in providing care that improves patient satisfaction and patient outcomes. In fact, it may be one of the most important tools you have. Communication helps your patient feel at ease, in control and valued. It helps you reduce errors between shifts, so it is important to speak up when you observe something unsafe about equipment that doesn’t work or you need assistance.
Although you can’t eliminate all accidents, when you support a culture of safety, you work toward correcting frequent errors and helping others understand the importance of core safety values and behaviors, rather than emphasizing competing goals. In other words, everyone on the team is responsible for the safety of the patient and the other staff.
Protocol is put into place for a reason. It’s there to protect you from the threat of a dirty needle stick or the possibility of exposure to infectious diseases. Protocols are in place to help protect your physical health and ergonomic techniques are used to protect your back. However, in the fast-paced world of high census and emergencies, it can sometimes be easy to overlook these protocols.
By nature, many nurses place their own health and safety at risk for the benefit of the patient. Take the time to learn your hospital’s safety protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment and ergonomic techniques. When these become second nature, you’re more apt to continue to use them when an emergency arises.
Some hospitals use checklists in circumstances where error is more likely to cause significant harm, such as in dispensing medication or changing central line dressings. Other times, it’s important to ask for help, like when you’re going to the parking garage late at night.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a smart person who learns from their mistakes but a truly wise person who learns from the mistakes of others. Use your organization’s system-based approach to look at all the facts behind an error and develop processes to ensure they don’t happen again.
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