New AACN tool increases patient safety, reduces medical errors

Dec. 1, 2009

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – November 30, 2009 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) introduces a FREE Web-based tool to help nurse managers and leaders align hospital unit performance with the AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining a Healthy Work Environment (HWE).

AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Team Assessment — developed with VitalSmarts, a provider of corporate training and organizational performance products and services based in Provo, Utah — aligns the performance of any clinical environment, from single hospital units to entire healthcare organizations, with the following six HWE standards:

Skilled Communication – equal proficiency in communication and clinical skills.

True Collaboration – relentless pursuit and fostering of true collaboration.

Effective Decision Making – valued and committed partners in making policy, directing and evaluating clinical care and leading organizational operations.

Appropriate Staffing – ensure there’s an effective match between patient needs and nurse competencies.

Meaningful Recognition – for the value of work brought to the organization by oneself and others.

Authentic Leadership – fully embrace the HWE imperative and engage others to achieve it.

AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Team Assessment reflects data from “Silence Kills,” a 2005 VitalSmarts-AACN study that explored avoidable errors and chronic workplace problems. The study prompted healthcare organizations to survey staff, compare performance and develop step-by-step strategies to improve poor performance, patient safety, staff recruitment and retention, and healthy workplace cultures.

Using AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Team Assessment team members rate online the health of their work environment. The nurse manager or leader receives aggregate scores with recommended actions and resources to improve workplace health and tracking tools to measure progress.

Connie Barden — executive editor of the AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining a Healthy Work Environment – expects the HWE tool to help health professionals identify and curb conditions that cause unhealthy work environments. Barden — RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS, a clinical nurse specialist at Miami’s Baptist Health South Florida — calls workplace health crucial to patient safety and staff morale.

“Compelling evidence shows the domino effect that a toxic work environment can have on patients and staff,” she explains. “Now an evidence-based screening tool is available to help nurses make their units and hospitals healthier and safer for patients and staff.”

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