A new survey says that nurses are wasting £ 1 bn a year searching for missing equipment, 35% faced daily shortages of medical supplies and 25% thought that patient records and lab results went missing every day.
The waste is bad enough but what about patient care? The survey continues
“one in four nurses admit they rarely have enough time to check patients’ records thoroughly before treating them.”
This must then lead to worse patient care which in turn leads to medical errors which leads to longer stays, repeat admissions and ultimately to avoidable death. If you think I am exaggerating think of the situation at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
We all know it is the big changes that make the difference, but often changing the system to fix the thousands of small problems creates the space and the thinking time to see the bigger system.
The problems listed in this survey are small problems with big effects, but no doubt the solutions are pretty easy to put in place. It just needs a supportive manager to remove the fear factor, to stop blaming people and also to stop congratulating people for going the extra mile to find the piece of equipment or drug. The culture of adulation of the fire fighters who work around the system needs to be replaced with an open, honest forum of problem identification, experimentation with solutions and swift implementation of things that work.
Fix the many little things and the big things follow. As the poem says:
For the want of a nail the battle was lost…