Letter from the Editor - Employees First

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Letter from the Editor - Employees First

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | February 01, 2015
Infection Control
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HealthCare Business News is always looking to share with our readers the best ways to decrease costs, increase revenue, improve efficiency and/or improve patient care at their facilities. Clearly, employees can and do have enormous impact on all of these efforts. Good staffers will find ways to do more with less, make recommendations to improve process and efficiency, and go above and beyond for patients. The best will always be looking for new ideas that can help increase the profitably of an existing revenue source or help create a new one.

But nothing will hurt morale more than an unsafe workplace, especially if management seems either defensive or indifferent about the risks staffers face - or ignores their ideas to improve safety. Nurses are one of the main groups known to suffer from work-related back injuries. They are also one of the largest groups to suffer from job-related respiratory issues due to various chemicals, both medical- and cleaning-related, in their environment, which they're exposed to on a daily basis. If an employee gets sick or injured, it helps them to know that they'll have their facility's support as they get back on the road to recovery. The boost to morale alone makes it good business. Still, smart facility executives will want to make sure they're covered on the liability side as well. We take a look at some of the things you should know in that regard in our feature piece on handling on-the-job injuries (page 44).

In terms of patient care, employee concern is being coupled with respect for the entire health care team, from the star surgeon to the rounding nurse. In fact it may be the latter, having the most interaction with a patient, who is the first to spot signs of decline or distress. Even in the OR, nurses are gaining more respect and authority to speak up when they have a concern. This change has meant fewer "never events" like wrong-site or wrong-patient surgery, leaving a device in a surgery patient, or any number of other mistakes that could prove catastrophic and deadly.

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The federal government has rightfully recognized the importance of improving such teamwork in health care, with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality creating the TeamSTEPPS program that promotes an evidence-based teamwork system to improve patient care. AORN president, Victoria Steelman, touches upon the topic in her Q&A on page 29.

We have also seen some dangerous infectious diseases surface in the past few years to threaten staff and patients alike. Making sure employees are up-to-date on vaccinations or protected as well as possible when there's no vaccine to be had is another way responsible organizations put employees first. We delve into some of the latest in infection control in Dr. Stephen Shrewsbury's article on page 32.

The takeaway is that organizations that take care of employees have employees that are engaged and dedicated not just to customers, but to the organization itself. With the right approach it's very possible to create a supportive atmosphere and a home away from home, and that investment will result in big returns in so many ways.

Sean Ruck
DOTmed HealthCare Business News

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