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Running head: EFFECTS OF A WORK ENVIRONMENT ON PATIENT SAFETY Smith 1

Effects of a Work Environment on Patient Safety


Kayla M. Smith
Youngstown State University
October 27th 2015

NURS2010: Contemporary Nursing


Dr. Louise Aurilio
Fall 2015
EFFECTS OF A WORK ENVIRONMENT ON PATIENT SAFETY Smith 2

Abstract
In the hospital location some injuries and deaths are preventable. Those injuries and deaths

transpired for multiple reasons. Though there are many other factors that affect patient safety,

centering on how the work environment for nurses and patient safety problems performed by

nurses are related. The work environment can distress the way the nurses think and how they

execute care for their patients. In a hospital environment there are ways that are beneficial for

patient safety and there are ways that halt nurses from performing safe care. Help should be

made accessible for the nurses to provide the competent care that the patient requires and

deserves. There are influences in the hospital setting that occur and affect the nurses being able

to provide competent care. As nurses they have been educated for when they need to practice

patient safety and how to properly practice it. The work environment that they have to work in

affects them, which in return affects the patient. There are also many other factors that play in

patient safety. Together, these findings will suggest that the work environment for nurses plays a

major rule in the care provided to patients by nurses.


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Many people die each year from diseases and natural causes, but “New research

estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors”

(Hospital Errors). This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death (Hospital Errors).

These numbers many seem small in comparison to the number of people in the world, but these

numbers don’t include the deaths that were not preventable. These facts have the word

preventable in the same sentence as with the word death. Though there are many different

reasons for these preventable deaths, this paper will focus on the environment that the nurses

work in and how it affects the care the patient receives.

Some general issues that occur in the hospital work environment for nurses are first the

number of hours and days worked. People need care at all hours of the day, but nurses also need

to get rest. Consequently, without the necessary rest that they need they are unable to perform at

their fullest ability for the patient and are at a higher risk for making an error. This then is

problematic with the scheduling and amount of staff that is willingly available. The ANA states

“Nurse employers should provide a work schedule that allows adequate rest and sufficient

compensation” ("Work Environment"). Therefore, leading to not having enough staff to work or

show up when needed.

Staffing problems, though there is a nursing shortage a facility needs to keep their patient

nurse ratio under control. If not, it can result in poor care been given to the current patients

because the nurses are unable to keep up with the amount of work they are given by their

employer. Also according to the ANA “The hours of direct nursing care for each resident be at

least 4.1 hours per resident day with minimum 30% of that consisting of licensed nurses”

("Nursing Staffing Requirements). Short staffed nurses have more demand and more people to

care for resulting in more stress. Nurses working short staffed, stressed and becoming fatigued
EFFECTS OF A WORK ENVIRONMENT ON PATIENT SAFETY Smith 4

causes preventable mistakes to occur. But in the ANA official positions, “Each registered nurse

has an ethical responsibility to carefully consider her/his level of fatigue” ("Nurse Staffing").

Everyone knows their own limits and cannot be afraid to say something if they feel that they

cannot perform their best. The amount of staff is crucial, but how sanitary the work

environments are also is playing a vast role.

Cleanliness of the facility and the environment the nurses are working in. Nightingale

said “I use the word nursing for want of a better of medicines and the application of poultices. It

ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper

selection and administration of diet-all at the least expense of vital power to the patient”(TOP 25

QUOTES BY FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE). Having an environment that is not clean does not

allow for the sick to heal. This is something that is preventable by keeping the hospital

environment clean and disinfected. Where if it is not sanitary, those who are not sick and in the

hospital may then get sick. Nightingale said, “The first requirement in a hospital is that it should

do the sick no harm” (TOP 25 QUOTES BY FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE). Nurses today still

follow the ideas of Nightingale (Cherry, 2014). Cleanliness plays a key role in preventing from

illness and disease, but nurses also need equipment to be readily available to them when needed

to prevent any further damage.

Not having the essential equipment available is the last thing that a nurse should have to

be looking for. Nurses have many things that they are responsible for and the last thing they need

to worry about is where something is when needed to save a life. On more basic terms, when a

patient needs to be transferred with the help of equipment. The equipment is accessible to assist

the nurses from having to lift or move the patient and hurting themselves. Also it is precarious

for the patient to be transferred without the adequate equipment, where the nurse may not get the
EFFECTS OF A WORK ENVIRONMENT ON PATIENT SAFETY Smith 5

patient safety situated or cause an injury. Nurses put themselves at risk to save people and they

should not be at risk because they do not have the proper equipment available. These are just

some of the factors that affect how a nurse provides care.

Therefore, many factors can lead to nurses making medical mistakes. The environment in

a hospital plays a role in patient safety. The issues of this paper are some of those that may put

patients in jeopardy. ANA describes a healthy work environment as “one that is safe,

empowering, and satisfying” ("Healthy Work Environment"). With these characteristics in a

work environment, it allows the nurses to provide and protect their patients the best they know

how.
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Works Cited

Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. (2014). The Evolution of Professional Nursing. In Contemporary

nursing: Issues, trends & management (6th ed., p. 9). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier.

Healthy Work Environment. (2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-

Environment

Hospital Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in U.S., and New Hospital Safety Scores

Show Improvements Are Too Slow. (2015, April 29). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org/newsroom/display/hospitalerrors-thirdleading-

causeofdeathinus-improvementstooslow

Nurse Staffing. (2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ThePracticeofProfessionalNursing/NurseSt

affing

Nursing Staffing Requirements to Meet the Demands of Today's Long Term Care Consumer

Recommendations from the Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations (CGNO).

(2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-

Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/CGNO-

Nursing-Staffing-Requirements-Recommendations.html

TOP 25 QUOTES BY FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (of 118) | A-Z Quotes. (2014). Retrieved

October 27, 2015, from http://www.azquotes.com/author/10825-Florence_Nightingale


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Work Environment. (2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-

Environment/Work-Environment