Healthcare staff safety challenges are unacceptable


Many healthcare staff are denied the basic precondition of a workplace that protects their physical and psychological safety, according to a new report.

It also found that the prevalence of physical harm experienced by healthcare workers far exceeds that in other industries, with up to a third of nurses experiencing back or musculoskeletal injuries in a year, while many have unprotected contact with blood-borne pathogens.

The report, titled Through The eyes of The Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care, was published by the by the Lucian Leap Institute at the Patient Safety Foundation. In addition to highlighting the worrying rates of physical harm, it states that psychological harm is also common.

“In many health care organizations, staff are not treated with respect – or, worse yet, they are routinely treated with disrespect,” it states. “Emotional abuse, bullying, and even threats of physical assault and learning by humiliation are all often accepted as ‘normal’ conditions of the health care workplace, creating a culture of fear and intimidation that saps joy and meaning from work.”

The report states that an environment of mutual respect is critical if the workforce is to find joy and meaning in work. It goes on to lay out several recommendations to help improve patient and staff safety.

These include adopting the explicit aim to eliminate harm to the workforce and to patients; commitment to creating a high-reliability organization (HRO); establishing data capture, database, and performance metrics for accountability and improvement; and recognizing and celebrating the work and accomplishments of the workforce, regularly and with high visibility.

“Effective leaders shape safety culture through management practices that demonstrate a priority to safety and compassionately engage the workforce to speak about and report errors, mistakes, and hazards that threaten safety – their own or their patients’. Joy and meaning will be created when the workforce feels valued, safe from harm, and part of the solutions for change,” it states.


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