Common Issues That Impact Patient Safety and How to Solve Them

Common Issues That Impact Patient Safety and How to Solve Them

Common Issues That Impact Patient Safety and How to Solve Them

The last several decades have brought a number of amazing advances in healthcare ranging from new, more effective treatments to the integration of AI technology. Unfortunately, while the field has made substantial progress, patients still face some risks during the process of receiving care and engaging with healthcare providers. 

Common Issues That Impact Patient Safety and How to Solve Them

Gaining awareness around some recurring issues can help one avoid these potential mishaps and stay safe throughout one’s patient journey. 

Here are common issues that impact patient safety and how to solve them.

Cybersecurity Threats and the Vulnerability of Patient Data

In recent times, one of the most impactful advances in healthcare has been the widespread adoption of electronic health records. Given their digital nature, these types of records make many processes — such as switching healthcare providers or seeing a specialist — far easier. Unfortunately, the fact that healthcare organizations typically house large amounts of private patient information on their databases makes them a prime target for cybercriminals. 

For patients, this means being at a higher risk of having one’s private information compromised. As one can imagine, this is a significant issue in today’s healthcare landscape and many organizations are actively looking for solutions to solve it. 

Fortunately, the problem of having one’s data vulnerable in the healthcare system can be solved in several key ways. On top of having robust cybersecurity defenses installed, healthcare organizations must thoroughly train all staff in how to engage with computer systems safely. 

The more skilled and educated healthcare employees are at keeping systems safe, the safer patients and their private data will be. 

A Lack of Patient Education and Its Impact on Patient Care

As the world has evolved, so has our understanding of health and the habits that promote well-being and longevity. Unfortunately, some portions of the population still lack educational resources about health and, as a result, aren’t aware of some key health-related insights. 

This lack of education can result in the development of unhealthy practices and habits that ultimately impact health. These include the consumption of tobacco products, a lack of regular exercise, and a belief that medical check-ups aren’t necessary. When factors such as these culminate, they can result in negative health outcomes and a significant impact on patients’ safety. 

To help combat this issue, healthcare organizations must develop practices that help educate patients about how to take care of their bodies and engage with their healthcare providers. Ultimately, this can substantially improve the safety of patients across the country and impart them with the skills to maintain good health throughout their lives. 

Telehealth and the Digital Divide

For many patients who live in rural areas, finding consistent access to healthcare and its associated resources has been incredibly difficult. To solve this issue, many healthcare organizations have utilized telehealth, the practice of providing healthcare through electronic technology, to help provide rural patients with medical care. 

Sadly, many of these rural residents don’t have access to the digital technology they need to receive telehealth services. For those that do, finding a reliable internet connection can be a near-impossible task. As a result, using telehealth as the main solution to the problem of rural healthcare is leaving many patients without a means of receiving robust medical care. This, in turn, leaves them at a higher risk of developing serious ailments and experiencing negative health outcomes. 

To solve this critical public health issue, healthcare organizations must engage in practices that make telehealth services more equitable for all patients. This can include setting up the infrastructure for high-speed internet in rural areas, providing residents with access to digital technology, and educating patients on how to engage in telehealth practices to experience optimal health outcomes and increase their level of safety. 

Healthcare Professional Burnout and Its Effect on Patient Care

Among healthcare professionals ranging from doctors to nurses, burnout is a dishearteningly common experience. Oftentimes, it is brought upon by shortages in trained professionals, leaving employees forced to work more hours. While the problem of burnout obviously has a devastating impact on healthcare workers, it can also negatively impact the safety of patients when they receive care. 

Specifically, healthcare professionals who are experiencing burnout are more likely to make a mistake when providing care to patients, which can ultimately lead them to experience negative health outcomes. Some common mistakes that healthcare professionals experiencing burnout might make include giving patients the wrong medication, communicating ineffectively, and misdiagnosing ailments. 

Thankfully, there are some potent strategies that healthcare organizations can take advantage of to mitigate employee burnout and the risks to patient safety that are associated with it. One powerful practice is implementing a monitoring system for employee burnout. 

In this case, healthcare leaders periodically check in with employees and monitor them for signs of burnout. These practices coupled with other strategies, such as more supportive cultures and improved workload management, can greatly improve the work experience of healthcare professionals and the safety of patients. 

Patient Safety Should Be a Top Priority

While there’s no argument that the healthcare field has evolved significantly over the decades, there are still looming risks that pose a threat to patient safety. By making patient safety a priority and putting effort into solving key safety issues, healthcare organizations can help improve the lives of masses of people. For instance, many healthcare providers are using biometric patient identification platforms to ensure patient data integrity and improve patient safety. 

As time goes on, many hope that new and effective solutions to the problem of safety will be implemented to help transform healthcare as we know it today.