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Patient Safety Awareness Week – Policies and Procedures Matter in Patient Safety

Patient Safety

Patient Safety Awareness Week – Policies and Procedures Matter in Patient Safety

“The risks associated with writing, updating, and implementing policies and procedures are often under-appreciated by healthcare managers (Irving, A.V.  2014).

Sound familiar?

Those of us writing, updating, and implementing policies and procedures know the dangers and risks associated with outdated and/or inconsistent policies.  At times, however, we have all probably felt that policies and procedures are underappreciated or even overlooked.  At the heart of policies and procedures stand patients, and at the end of the day, the goal of policies and procedures is to protect patients from harm.  Therefore, as this year’s 2017 Patient Safety Awareness Week nears, let’s not forget the critical role that policies and procedures play in keeping our patients safe.

March 12 – 18, 2017 marks this year’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, an initiative of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF).  Patient Safety Awareness Week promotes awareness of patient safety among healthcare providers and the communities they serve.  As Patient Safety Awareness week approaches, thousands of healthcare professionals have already signed the NPSF pledge to:

“…strive to implement and follow practices that increase the safety of my patients and my team.”

At the cornerstone of this pledge, lies the foundation of what those of us in the regulatory and compliance sectors of healthcare strive to achieve each day – to standardize care and implement procedures so that other healthcare professionals will follow safe practice. Through well-written and evidence-based policies and procedures, we create the framework for care environment and promote safe practices.

As a nurse, it is important to me to not get so caught up in the latest regulatory standards that I lose sight of the patients that these standards are intended to protect.  It was not too long ago that I stood with a policy and procedure in one hand (or pulled up on a computer screen to be exact) and a patient in the other. As I write and update policies and procedures today, I try to remember what I and other nurses would need at the bedside to provide safe care.  In doing so, I am reminded that, while I might not touch patients directly, I am connected to patient safety through the policies and procedures I update and write.

While it may be true that the work of writing, updating, and implementing policies and procedures is undervalued at times and perhaps even dreaded by some, it helps to remember that policies and procedures are critical pieces of an organization’s overall culture of safety.

Policies and procedures have significant impact on the care environment, and the patient safety pledge is as true for those of us behind desks and computers as it is for those providing direct care.

Sending a heartfelt thank you this Patient Safety Awareness Week to everyone who influences and practices safe patient care.


Irving, A.V. (2014). Policies and Procedures for Healthcare Organizations:  A risk Management Perspective. Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, October 13, 2014. Retrieved from

MCN Healthcare content writer


Alison Rogers, RN, BSN

MCN Healthcare Content Writer



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