On November 29, 1999, a report entitled To Err is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System was released by the Institute of Medicine to confer the effects of medical errors. Outstandingly, the report has since then engineered transformation in nursing practice with fewer patients dying since it laid a foundation of ‘moving from errors to safety’. The report recognized the importance of recognizing the necessity of individual accountability in health practice. Though only a small population of those in nursing practice has the reckless, unacceptable and criminal behavior, it has been considered increasing vital to ensure they are accountable for the unsafe conditions (Wager et al, 2013).
Noticeably, the original intent of the report was to address patient safety which is major component of quality. Based on the findings of the report, nursing practice has since then embraced the notion that reducing deaths and injuries that occur as a result of medical injury needs employment of not only dramatic but also system wide changes. In keeping with Kohn et al (2000) each and every day practice nurses and other hospital personnel have been working towards recognizing, preventing and mitigating harm caused by such errors. Nursing practice has started by accepting that error exists and identify the reasons behind such errors such as fatigue, anxiety, anger and time pressure.
Error, defined as, failing to complete a planned certain action as originally intended, have necessitated immediate analysis and response to all contributing factors (Sirriyeh et al, 2010). In March 2001, the Quality of Health Care Committee in America noted that if American healthcare was to be safe and of high-quality, then there was need to integrate Information Technology in the subsequent measures of improving safety. This led to increased emphasis on combination of patient care and computer-based technology i.e. nursing informatics. Incorporating a broad array of technologies has had proven positive effects on the quality of safety in nursing.
Use of health Information Technology has resulted in availability of overwhelming amount of medical information available which has ensures consistent error free care. Errors occur despite our best intentions since we are humans and therefore information technology has helped address healthcare safety by imperfect memory and decision-making which compromise patient safety (Shekelle et al, 2011). Use of information systems has thus helped minimize probability of occurrence of human error by helping health providers make the best possible clinical decisions. A systematic review in 1998 proved that computer-based clinical support systems that helped in decision-making benefited a whopping 66% (43 of 63) studies.
At first blush, informatics do not seem to have immediate impacts on safety arena but their applications has helped ensure that therapeutics, blood products and medications offered to patients are appropriate. An additional benefit of informatics is that it has helped design better technology and also ensures that healthcare organizations implement solutions to improve healthcare. According to Poon et al (2010), through informatics, nursing practice has been able to incorporate bar codes in medical administration which is imperative in reducing harm.
IT systems help coordinate patient care by electronically collecting, storing and organizing healthcare information about patients. Finally, informatics have helped in development and implementation of Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems which has helped nursing practice identify and address strategic concerns that will help improve health care safety (Coustasse et al, 2013). Notably, some areas that still need improvement include investing wisely on information technology, assessing existing barriers and harnessing more government support on improving information technology.
To sum up, while informatics and information technology improves patient safety and quality of healthcare, there is still more to be done to ensure full evaluation and implementation of such technologies (Ball et al, 2011). Nonetheless, their impact on improving quality of healthcare is massive. This paper has provided an in-depth analysis of how “To Err is Human” and development of information technology has impacted nursing practice in attempts to address patient safety.