Patient safety

New HPIO, OSU policy brief explores link between clinician wellbeing and patient care and safety

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio, in partnership with the Ohio State University College of Nursing Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare, has released a new policy brief titled A Call to Action: Improving Clinician Wellbeing and Patient Care and Safety.

A growing body of research indicates that healthcare clinicians face serious problems related to their overall health and wellbeing, including high rates of burnout, depression, addiction and suicide. Understanding the relationship between clinician well-being and patient care and safety enables state policymakers and healthcare leaders to implement evidence-informed policies and programs that improve outcomes for clinicians and their patients.

This brief serves as a call to action to improve clinician wellbeing and its impacts on patient care and safety, providing a:

  • Framework for the relationship between clinician wellbeing and patient care and safety
  • Summary of research findings
  • Review of evidence-informed policies, programs and practices that improve clinician wellbeing and support high-quality, safe patient care
  • Set of evidence-informed state policy options

State exploring licensing hospitals

Ohio is the only state that doesn’t license its hospitals, prompting the Ohio Nurses Association and some lawmakers to call for increased regulation (Source: “State examining ways to increase hospital regulation after patient overdose deaths at Columbus facility,” Akron Beacon Journal, April 17, 2019).

Others say there’s already enough state oversight and warn that adding more could take away from patient care.

Concerned that Ohio is the only state in the nation that does not license general hospitals, the governor and state director of public health are looking at ways to increase regulation at such facilities.

Their interest comes with the revelation that two central Ohio hospitals lacked policies to prevent staff members from bypassing alerts and approval systems to access and administer inappropriately high or fatal amounts of painkillers to patients.

“It makes absolutely no sense that Ohio is the only state that does not license hospitals,” DeWine told The Dispatch last week. “We owe this to the citizens in the state of Ohio to be able to look at a situation and say ‘Look, what have we learned from this tragedy?’”

Drug overuse by older Americans needs more attention, experts warn

For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons, but the issue still attracts little attention (Source: “An Overlooked Epidemic: Older Americans Taking Too Many Unneeded Drugs,” Kaiser Health News, Dec. 12, 2017).

Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79.

Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders.

At least 15 percent of seniors seeking care annually from doctors or hospitals have suffered a medication problem; in half of these cases, the problem is believed to be potentially preventable. Studies have linked polypharmacy to unnecessary death. Older patients, who have greater difficulty metabolizing medicines, are more likely to suffer dizziness, confusion and falls. And the side effects of drugs are frequently misinterpreted as a new problem, triggering more prescriptions, a process known as a prescribing cascade.

Ohio hospitals begin patient safety program

The Ohio Hospital Association last week launched its participation in Partnership for Patients program, a national public-private collaboration of hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies designed to improve health care quality, safety and affordability (Source: “Ohio begin Partnership for Patients program on Friday,” Healthcare Payer News, March 22, 2012).

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded OHA and the Ohio Patient Safety Institute a hospital engagement contract as part of $218 million given to 26 states.

“We are honored to lead this extraordinary initiative to help hospitals with patient care,” said David Engler, OHA Vice President, Quality Institute, in a press release. “Our goal is to reduce inpatient harm by 40% and readmissions by 20% by the end of 2013. Ohio hospitals are continually driving progress by collaborating on ways to improve the care they provide.”