Ensuring patient safety is an issue of high visibility in all health care environments. Harm can occur as a result of many factors and differing circumstances. A clearer picture of the patient safety problem is emerging as awareness improves. Data reporting occurs and safety programs are defined. Emergency nurses faced with rising acuity and volumes in a setting of a shrinking workforce are ready to address the safety issues in their setting. Critical safety issues that have been identified are falls, misidentification, medication errors, device misadventure, wrong site procedures, burns and other medical treatment related events.
National organizations, such as the National Quality Forum, The Joint Commission and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, provide resources for positions, mandates and research projects related to patient safety and quality. The American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine have appointed patient safety committees and continue to develop research-based programs promoting safety. The ENA recognizes the important role nurses play in safety by the creation of the Institute for Quality, Safety and Injury Prevention (IQSIP).
The Medical Product Safety Network (MedSun) is an adverse event reporting program launched in 2002 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Device and Radiological Health (CDRH). The primary goal for MedSun is to work collaboratively with the clinical community to identify, understand and solve problems with the use of medical devices. The FDA wants to share what is known about medical devices with the health professional community. Details on events related to medical equipment can be viewed at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/