Viewpoint: Safety work relies too much on clinicians' heroism 

A national patient safety effort that standardizes best practices across all U.S. hospitals is required to achieve and sustain meaningful improvements in patient care, five patient safety experts said in a NEJM Catalyst article published Dec. 12.  

The pandemic erased years of progress in preventing healthcare-associated infections and other adverse clinical outcomes, though many experts were already sounding the alarm on a decline in national safety work before the pandemic hit. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that patient safety policy and practice has relied too heavily on the vigilance and heroism of clinicians, rather than the design of safe systems," the leaders wrote. 

They identified two key factors that contributed to a slip in patient safety performance: variable deployments of patient safety systems across healthcare organizations and high turnover rates among front-line clinicians fueled by burnout. 

To address these issues, the nation's patient safety organizations should unite with leading health systems to identify standardized best practices that could be adopted nationally, leaders wrote. Although this approach would not directly address staffing issues, it would "greatly reduce the learning burden that health professionals face when they move among care delivery settings," leaders said.

Read the full article here.

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