Survey: Nearly 2 million healthcare professionals don’t feel they have tools, training to safely care for patients

Aug. 28, 2019
Leadership commitment, staffing cited as barriers to health care excellence

Achieving “zero harm” is the fundamental bedrock of safe and effective healthcare, but a new survey from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare found as many as 1.98 million healthcare professionals don’t feel they have the resources they need to help their organization reach this industry goal.

Through a national survey, 11 percent of healthcare professionals – as many as 1.98 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate of more than 18 million Americans employed in healthcare – say they don’t have the tools and training to help their workplace achieve zero harm.

In fact, only 49 percent of respondents strongly agree they have the resources to help their workplace achieve zero harm – and just 47 percent strongly agree they personally have what they need to safely care for patients.

While nearly all respondents (96 percent) said they are “fully committed” to zero harm, more than one out of five (21 percent) said their role is “too small to have an impact that big.”

Healthcare is a complex industry built on millions of individual interactions every day, creating countless opportunities to help – and to harm. The Center for Transforming Healthcare, a nonprofit affiliate of accreditation leader The Joint Commission, focuses on changing healthcare into a high reliability industry by developing effective, durable solutions to healthcare’s most critical safety and quality problems. High reliability in healthcare refers to consistent excellence in quality and safety across all services, maintained over long periods of time.

An effective high reliability program requires support and commitment across all levels of the organization – an issue cited as a significant obstacle by survey respondents. Nearly eight out of 10 healthcare professionals believe lack of leadership (77 percent) and lack of organizational investment (79 percent) are barriers to healthcare excellence.

“Caregivers can be powerful agents for improvement, but leadership commitment is critical to creating and sustaining a safety culture that empowers every individual across the organization,” said Anne Marie Benedicto, Vice President of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, in the press statement.“Healthcare leaders have a number of responsibilities, but making high reliability care and zero harm the priority has a positive impact across the organization – from employee engagement and clinical outcomes to patient satisfaction and financial performance.”

As the industry grapples with significant policy changes and looming nurse shortages, healthcare professionals point to staffing concerns as a threat to high-quality care: Nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) respondents believe inadequate staffing is the biggest barrier to healthcare excellence. In addition, more than half of respondents (54 percent) believe addressing nurse-patient ratios will improve patient safety.