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Report finds most errors at hospitals go unreported


Medical errorsHospital staff recognize and report only one out of every seven errors, accidents and other events that harm hospitalized Medicare patients, says a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General. Hospital administrators concede it is likely that staff are not clear about which events they should report, given the wide range of harm to patients that can occur in hospitals.

The AFT is a longstanding advocate for patient safety. Unreported medical errors are a pervasive public health threat that can be eliminated only through systemwide reforms aimed at patient safety, says AFT president Randi Weingarten. "We need to shift from the current 'blame the employee' culture to an emphasis on providing safe staffing levels at hospitals and other medical facilities, and on giving workers a voice and a meaningful role in efforts to improve our entire healthcare system." 

Read more on AFT.org and from the New York Times

Tracking health electronically

Tracking health electronicallyNurses today often are expected to record health information electronically, which requires shifts in procedure, skills and patient interaction. The transition is cause for excitement and caution, NYSUT healthcare professionals say. Electronic reporting improves accountability and legibility, streamlines storage and provides support for clinical decisions; but it also lessens time spent with patients.

Learn more on NYSUT.org

Resource roundup

Check out the latest legislation, policies, news and reports making healthcare headlines.

The National Nursing Network Organization highlights the National Nurse Act of 2011 (H.R. 3679, introduced last month). The legislation would elevate the existing position of chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service bringing more visibility to the role nurses play in advancing the nation's health.

An alert issued by the Joint Commission urges healthcare organizations to step up their efforts to reduce the risks for medical errors related to the fatigue endured by workers on extended shifts.

Are hospitals ready for the influx? The number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double to nearly 90 million by 2050; the number age 85 and older is expected to more than triple to 19 million. 


New rules proposed for home health care workers


The growing demand for long-term in-home care has prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to propose new rules regarding provide minimum wage and overtime protections for nearly 2 million workers who provide in-home care services for the elderly and infirm. In proposing these new rules, the noted that even though the industry is growing, the earnings of in-home care workers are among the lowest in the service industry, impeding efforts to improve both jobs and care.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka calls the proposal a win for consumers and the home care workforce. "Improved working conditions will attract new workers to this quickly growing industry while reducing turnover among existing employees. This will allow more families the choice of home-based care as a long-term care option."

Read more on AFT.org


Training community college students to implement health IT


An expected shortfall of 50,000 in the health IT workforce over the next five years has prompted a group of community colleges to find ways to quell any future worker shortages in health IT, reports Governing magazine. "… Not only are hospitals [and] physician practices looking for these qualified individuals, but so are vendor organizations," says Norma Morganti, executive director of the Midwest Community College Health Information Technology Consortium, which consists of 17 member colleges. The consortium will use a $15 million grant over a two-year period to train students in managing electronic health record systems as workflow designers; liaisons; trainers; and professionals who can install, implement and maintain EHR systems.

Get the full story here

Combating compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue is a combination of both secondary traumatic stress from witnessing the suffering of others and burnout. It can result in feelings of sadness and despair that impair nurses’ health and well-being. It can reduce empathy and lead nurses to dread or avoid certain patients, raising the risk of substandard care. A Wall Street Journal article discusses innovative programs hospitals are using to fend off the constant assault on the minds (and hearts) of nurses.

Read more on WSJ.com

January2012

In This Issue

Report finds most errors at hospitals go unreported

Tracking health electronically

New rules proposed for home health care workers

Training community college students on health IT

Combating compassion fatigue

AFT + Member Benefits - credit counseling

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