September 1, 2004 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance
Safety management is a broad term used to describe the activities that healthcare facilities undertake to provide a safe environment for patients, staff, and others coming to the facility. Safety management programs in healthcare organizations are shaped mostly by government laws and regulations, including national, state, and local health and safety codes; voluntary accrediting organization standards; and professional association guidelines and standards. An effective safety management program, however, should go beyond meeting standards and regulations; the safety program should be proactive and aim to reduce patient, visitor, and employee injuries and illnesses.
This Risk Analysis discusses the major elements of a safety management program for healthcare facilities and serves as a tool to assist managers in developing a general safety management program or for use in evaluating or modifying existing programs.
Safety management programs in healthcare facilities must encompass the entire healthcare environment and all the hazards it contains. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitals and nursing care facilities have some of the highest rates of injuries and illness among industries for which such rates were calculated in 2002.1
Hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) must meet its environment of care standards, which require facilities to provide a safe, functional, supportive, and effective environment for patients, staff, and other individuals in the hospital.2 JCAHO notes that achieving this goal depends on planning and designing a safe environment, educating staff about safety, developing standards to measure staff and hospital performance in meeting environment of care goals, and implementing plans to create and manage the hospital's environment of care. Effective safety management enables the facility to reduce and control environmental hazards and risks; prevent accidents and injuries; maintain safe conditions for patients,...