3 information gaps that hinder patient safety, and how to solve them

The biggest challenge hospitals face when implementing patient safety practices is the process of gathering useful data on adverse events, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. The report also identified three key gaps where better information could help guide hospital officials in continuing their safety improvement efforts.

The GAO pinpointed the three information gaps based on interviews with numerous patient safety experts, as well as related literature. The gaps hospitals run into involve the following information.

1. Problem: Information on how contextual factors affect the implementation of patient safety practices.

Solution: To solve this lack of information, the report says more research must be conducted on the organizational characteristics and factors that make implementing different patient safety strategies more or less effective at particular hospitals.

2. Problem: Detailed intelligence on previous hospitals' experience using specific patient safety implementation strategies.

Solution: The patient safety experts interviewed for the GAO report say descriptions of the implementation strategies that hospitals have used in the past need to be specified in enough detail that other hospitals can figure out if they are following the strategies and implementing each specific activity as it had previously been implemented.

3. Problem: Reliable and accurate data on how frequently certain adverse events occur.

Solution: Regarding the third research gap, the experts and related literature reviewed call for improved techniques for measuring adverse events.

Should all this knowledge be gathered, analyzed and made available through research studies, national reports or user-friendly databases, hospitals may be able to select and implement the optimal patient safety strategies for their organization.



More articles on patient safety:
6 ways patient-provider teams can improve safety
GAO: 3 barriers hospitals face when implementing patient safety practices
Arizona State Hospital self-inspection highlights gaps in patient safety

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