How Every ASC Nurse Can Create a Culture of Patient Safety

Nurses are integral to the culture of safety in every ASC across the country. This post explores four strategies that can place safety at the forefront of your ASC’s patient care culture.

Implement teamwork

Delivering safe surgical care depends on the collaboration of clinicians in multiple areas of expertise. The surgical center as a whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. Some of the crucial elements for implementing strong teamwork include removing communication barriers, acknowledging human fallibility, and strengthening skills of situational awareness.

Implementing teamwork focuses on making sure every player is trained to respond to acute situations. It’s also important to do your part in creating a culture where everyone feels safe to speak up about suspected problems or challenges. Team members should be trained to cross-check each other’s actions, address errors non-judgmentally, and provide feedback. In your role as a nurse, one of the ways you can foster an environment of teamwork is to ask for feedback—be the one to initiate the crucial conversations.

Enhance communication

Nurses, by definition of their roles, are communicators.  Communication with patients can be enhanced by implementing a strong pre-admissions process that identifies and flags high-risk factors and red flags. 

You are likely the member of your team who is communicating with patients the most. Because of this, nurses are positioned perfectly to lead the team in enhancing communication skills with each other.

One such tool for enhancing communication to promote patient safety is the SBAR technique. This is an easy-to-remember tool you can use to communicate effectively with other ambulatory surgery center staff when discussing a patient’s care

  • S stands for Situation: provide a concise explanation of the problem at hand.
  • B stands for Background: list any details that are relevant to the situation.
  • A stands for Assessment: explain what you have found and present consideration of options.
  • R stands for Recommendation: what would you recommend? Give your thoughts and ask for input.

Provide the best training

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides an index of available patient safety training programs your ASC can invest in. Make it a best practice to ensure all staff are trained in best practices. Some of the areas of training that many ASCs choose include clinical emergency preparedness, hand hygiene in healthcare, and infection prevention.

Ensure proper staffing ratios

Nurses, in particular, are essential to a culture of patient safety. As a nurse, you are responsible for the delivery, coordination, and evaluation of many interventions prescribed by others. Missed nursing care refers to errors of omission—when patients do not receive the care that they should. Most often, missed nursing care is caused by lack of appropriate nursing staffing.

Research has shown a clear link between adequate nursing staffing and patient outcomes. When ASCs don’t have the proper resources, such as availability of necessary equipment, appropriate labor resources, and strong teamwork and communication, missed nursing care can occur. In a surgical center, a 1:5 ratio at the minimum is considered ideal.

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