10 min read

Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns 2023

patient safety

Patient safety is an ongoing concern for healthcare providers and patients alike. As medical technologies continue to advance, and new treatments are introduced, it's essential to stay aware of emerging risks and potential threats to patient safety. With this in mind, independent nonprofit organization ECRI has identified the top 10 patient safety concerns for 2023.

These concerns encompass a range of issues, from technological risks to healthcare-associated infections, and highlight the need for continued vigilance and improvement in patient safety practices. In this context, this article will provide an overview of the top 10 patient safety concerns for 2023, and their implications for patients and healthcare providers.

1. Physical and verbal violence against healthcare staff

Workplace violence against healthcare staff is a growing concern in the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers are often vulnerable to workplace violence due to a variety of factors, including long hours, high-stress environments, and the nature of their work.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workplace violence is defined as "violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty."

Sources of violence against healthcare staff can come from patients, patients' families, or other staff members. Healthcare workers who deal with patients in emergency departments, psychiatric wards, and long-term care facilities are at a higher risk of being victims of violence. However, violence against healthcare staff can occur in any healthcare setting.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of federal enforcement regulations and Joint Commission accreditation standards regarding violence prevention in healthcare facilities. This has led to a lack of consistency in how healthcare facilities approach workplace violence prevention.

workplace violence in healthcare (2)

To address this issue, there are several action recommendations for controlling the abuse against healthcare staff. These include developing and implementing a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program, providing education and training to staff, enhancing security measures, and conducting regular risk assessments to identify potential areas of concern.

An incident reporting system can also help control abuse against healthcare staff. Real-time documentation of incidents allows for better tracking and analysis of incidents and can help identify patterns or trends. This information can then be used to develop targeted interventions and prevention strategies.

2. Impact on Clinicians Expected to Work Outside Their Scope of Practice and Competencies

Clinicians are often faced with situations where they are expected to work outside their scope of practice and competencies. This can be due to a variety of circumstances, including staffing shortages, unexpected patient surges, and emergency situations. However, working outside of one's scope of practice and competencies can have serious consequences for both patients and healthcare workers.

Healthcare organizations have a legal and ethical duty to ensure that their staff is working within their scope of practice and competencies. When staff are asked to work outside their scope, they may not have the necessary skills or knowledge to provide safe and effective care. This can result in adverse events and harm to patients.

There are several circumstances that can lead to staff working outside their scope. These include overtime, high patient acuity, and workplace violence. Overtime and high patient acuity can lead to fatigue and decreased cognitive function, making it more difficult for staff to make sound clinical decisions. Workplace violence can also lead to staff feeling pressured to perform tasks outside their scope, potentially putting themselves and their patients at risk.

Education and training in patient and worker safety are critical to preventing staff from working outside their scope of practice and competencies. This includes providing ongoing education on patient safety, identifying and managing risk, and recognizing and responding to adverse events. By providing education and training, healthcare organizations can help ensure that staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.

When staff work outside their scope of practice and competencies, it can lead to healthcare worker burnout and adverse events. Staff burnout can result in decreased job satisfaction, increased turnover, and decreased patient satisfaction. Adverse events can result in harm to patients, increased healthcare costs, and damage to the reputation of the healthcare organization.

To address this issue, action recommendations for patient and worker safety include developing and implementing policies and procedures for task distribution, providing education and training to staff, enhancing staffing levels, and implementing an incident reporting system for identifying situations where clinicians work beyond their scope. An incident reporting system can help healthcare organizations identify areas where staff are being asked to work outside their scope and implement changes to task distribution to prevent this from happening in the future.

3. Delayed Identification and Treatment of Sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. It is a significant healthcare concern in the United States, with an estimated 1.7 million cases and 270,000 deaths each year. Delayed identification and treatment of sepsis can have serious consequences for patients, including organ failure, septic shock, and death.

Rapid identification and treatment of sepsis are critical to improving patient outcomes. Studies have shown that early recognition and treatment of sepsis can significantly reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity. Timely administration of antibiotics and other interventions can prevent the progression of sepsis to severe sepsis or septic shock.

In patients with septic shock, timely antimicrobial treatment has been shown to improve survival rates. Delayed administration of antibiotics can lead to increased mortality rates, highlighting the importance of early identification and treatment of sepsis.

Action recommendations to ensure early identification of sepsis include implementing sepsis screening protocols, providing education and training to healthcare providers, enhancing communication between healthcare providers, and utilizing electronic health records to facilitate early identification of sepsis. These recommendations emphasize the importance of early recognition and treatment of sepsis to improve patient outcomes.

An incident reporting system can also help in the prompt identification and treatment of sepsis. By tracking and reporting incidents of sepsis, healthcare organizations can identify areas where improvements can be made in early recognition and treatment. This can help prevent future cases of delayed identification and treatment of sepsis and ultimately improve patient outcomes. 

New call-to-action

4. Risks of Not Looking Beyond the "Five Rights" to Achieve Medication Safety

Medication safety is a critical component of patient safety in healthcare, and the "five rights" - right patient, right medication, right dose, right route, and right time - have long been the standard for medication administration. However, relying solely on the "Five Rights" can have limitations and may not be enough to ensure optimal medication safety.

While the "five rights" provide a foundation for safe medication administration, they do not account for other factors that can contribute to medication errors, such as drug interactions, allergies, and dosing calculations. Failing to look beyond the "Five Rights" can result in medication errors, adverse drug reactions, and harm to patients.

Strategies for improving medication safety beyond the "Five Rights" include utilizing technology such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and barcode medication administration (BCMA) systems, performing medication reconciliations, and involving patients in their own medication management.

Action recommendations for medication safety should also include system improvements such as standardizing medication storage and labeling, promoting interprofessional collaboration and communication, and implementing ongoing education and training for healthcare providers.

An incident reporting system can play a crucial role in improving medication safety by identifying trends and issues related to medication errors, facilitating communication between healthcare providers, and informing policy changes to prevent future errors.

5. Medication Errors Resulting from Inaccurate Patient Medication Lists

Maintaining accurate patient medication lists is critical in ensuring safe medication use and preventing medication errors. Inconsistent knowledge and record-keeping regarding a patient's medications can lead to medication reconciliation errors, which occur when there are discrepancies between the patient's medication list and what is ordered or administered.

Medication reconciliation errors can occur at various points in the healthcare system, including at hospital admission and discharge. During hospital admission, errors can occur when medication lists are incomplete or inaccurate, leading to medication omissions, duplications, or interactions. Similarly, discrepancies can arise at hospital discharge when changes to medication regimens are not communicated to the patient or their primary care provider.

These errors can have a significant impact on patient safety, resulting in adverse drug events, hospital readmissions, and increased healthcare costs. Improving medication reconciliation processes is crucial to reducing medication errors resulting from inaccurate patient medication lists.

Action recommendations for improving medication reconciliation processes include standardizing medication reconciliation procedures, utilizing technology such as electronic health records (EHRs), and involving patients and caregivers in the medication reconciliation process. Additionally, ongoing education and training for healthcare providers on medication reconciliation best practices can help reduce errors.

An incident reporting system can also play a role in reducing medication errors resulting from inaccurate patient medication lists. By identifying trends and issues related to medication reconciliation errors, healthcare organizations can implement policy changes and process improvements to prevent future errors.

6. Accidental Administration of Neuromuscular Blocking Agents

Neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBs) are a class of medications used in anesthesia to induce muscle paralysis and facilitate mechanical ventilation during surgery or other procedures. While NMBs can be useful in certain situations, they can also be dangerous if administered incorrectly.

Analysis of NMB-related events has shown that accidental administration of NMBs without proper ventilator support can result in serious harm or even death. Common causes of NMB errors include miscommunication between healthcare providers, confusion with similar medication names or packaging, and inadequate training or supervision.

To prevent NMB errors and improve medication safety, action recommendations include the use of independent double-checks when administering NMBs, clear labeling and storage of medications to avoid confusion, and regular training and education for healthcare providers on proper NMB administration and monitoring.

Additionally, healthcare organizations can implement policies and procedures to promote a culture of safety and open communication among staff, including the reporting of NMB-related incidents and near-misses. An incident reporting system can help to monitor incidents related to improper NMB administration and identify areas for improvement in medication safety measures.

7. Preventable Harm Due to Omitted Care or Treatment

Preventable harm due to omitted care or treatment is a significant concern in healthcare. Studies have shown that missed care opportunities are prevalent and can have serious consequences for patients. Common predictors of missed care include inadequate staffing, time pressures, and competing demands.

Consequences of missed care can range from increased patient morbidity and mortality to increased healthcare costs and legal liability. Analysis of adverse events related to staffing shortages has shown that missed care opportunities can lead to preventable harm, including medication errors, falls, and pressure ulcers.

To reduce missed care opportunities and prevent harm to patients, action recommendations include ensuring adequate staffing levels, promoting a culture of safety and teamwork, and using technology and evidence-based practices to support care delivery.

An incident reporting system can also be a valuable tool in addressing preventable harm due to omitted care or treatment. By providing a mechanism for staff to report near-misses and adverse events, an incident reporting system can help identify areas for improvement in care processes and staffing, and support ongoing efforts to improve patient safety.

Download our How to Implement a Near Miss Program Webinar

8. The Pediatric Mental Health Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of children and adolescents. Many children are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The pandemic has disrupted normal routines, social connections, and school activities, which are essential for children's social, emotional, and mental well-being.

The pandemic has also led to a rise in stressors, such as financial insecurity, food insecurity, and social isolation, which can contribute to poor mental health outcomes. These stressors have disproportionately affected low-income families and communities of color, exacerbating existing health disparities.

The pediatric mental health crisis has led to a significant increase in suicidal ideation among children and adolescents. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents, and the pandemic has only worsened this trend. There has been a sharp rise in suicide attempts and emergency department visits for mental health issues among children and adolescents.

Addressing the pediatric mental health crisis requires a multifaceted approach that involves addressing the social determinants of health, increasing access to mental health services, and promoting mental health literacy among parents and caregivers. It is crucial to invest in mental health services that are specifically tailored to children and adolescents and to increase funding for research on pediatric mental health.

In conclusion, the pediatric mental health crisis is a significant public health concern that requires urgent attention. By taking a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of poor mental health outcomes, we can promote the well-being of children and adolescents and prevent the devastating consequences of untreated mental illness.

9. Clinician needs in times of uncertainty surrounding maternal-fetal medicine

During times of uncertainty surrounding maternal-fetal medicine, clinicians face unique challenges in providing care for pregnant patients and their fetuses. These challenges can include issues such as lack of data, evolving guidelines, and concerns about exposure to COVID-19. Clinicians must balance the need to provide high-quality care with the need to protect the health and safety of their patients and themselves.

One key need for clinicians in times of uncertainty is access to up-to-date information and resources. This may include guidelines and protocols for managing pregnancies during a pandemic, as well as information on emerging therapies or treatments that may be beneficial for patients. Clinicians may also benefit from opportunities for education and training on topics related to maternal-fetal medicine, such as telemedicine, fetal monitoring, and high-risk pregnancy management.

Another important need for clinicians is support and resources for managing their own mental health and well-being. The stress and uncertainty of providing care during a pandemic can take a toll on clinicians, leading to burnout, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Providing resources such as counseling, mental health support, and self-care tools can help clinicians maintain their well-being and continue to provide high-quality care for their patients.

In addition, clinicians may benefit from support and resources for navigating ethical and legal issues that may arise during times of uncertainty. For example, clinicians may need guidance on how to make decisions about fetal interventions when there is limited data available, or how to handle informed consent when the risks and benefits of certain treatments are unclear.

Ultimately, providing effective care during times of uncertainty in maternal-fetal medicine requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the needs of both patients and clinicians. By providing access to up-to-date information, resources for mental health and well-being, and support for navigating ethical and legal challenges, healthcare organizations can help clinicians provide the best possible care for pregnant patients and their fetuses.

10. Consequences of poor care coordination for patients with complex medical conditions

The consequences of poor care coordination for patients with complex medical conditions can be severe. With the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, it is becoming more common for patients to have multiple chronic conditions. These patients often require care from multiple providers, which can result in fragmented care and poor coordination.

A recent survey of 7,568 patients found that nearly 40% reported at least one gap in care coordination, such as a lack of communication between providers, incomplete medical records, or delayed test results. This lack of coordination can result in serious consequences for patients, such as medication errors, repeat tests, and unnecessary emergency department visits.

Patients with complex medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to poor care coordination. They may require frequent medication adjustments, regular check-ins with multiple specialists, and ongoing monitoring of their symptoms. When care is not coordinated effectively, these patients may experience gaps in care that can lead to poor health outcomes, such as hospitalization or even death.

In addition to the negative impact on patient health, poor care coordination can also result in increased healthcare costs. Unnecessary hospitalizations, repeat tests, and ED visits can all contribute to higher healthcare spending, which can be especially burdensome for patients with complex medical conditions who may already be struggling financially.

To address the consequences of poor care coordination for patients with complex medical conditions, healthcare systems need to prioritize care coordination efforts. This may involve implementing electronic health records systems, improving communication between providers, and providing more support for patients to manage their own care. By improving care coordination, healthcare systems can improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.


Performance Health Partners’ incident management system plays a critical role in addressing the various challenges faced by the healthcare industry. It enables healthcare providers to collect and analyze real-time data, which facilitates targeted interventions that help to improve patient safety and staff well-being.

By using incident reporting software, healthcare organizations can identify patient safety concerns and take appropriate action to prevent harm. This proactive approach to healthcare is essential to prevent adverse events, reduce healthcare costs, and improve patient outcomes. Overall, the use of incident reporting software is crucial for ensuring that healthcare providers deliver high-quality care while maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

Ready to learn more? Connect with our team.

Articles you may be interested in

How Incident Reporting Software Can Bridge Safety Perception Gaps

How Incident Reporting Software Can Bridge Safety Perception Gaps

Consider a scenario in a hospital where management believes their emergency protocols are well understood and carefully followed by all staff. Yet,...

Read More
7 Reasons for Healthcare Leaders to Focus on Patient Experience

7 Reasons for Healthcare Leaders to Focus on Patient Experience

Prioritizing patient experience is vital for enhancing outcomes and offers multifaceted benefits for healthcare institutions. This strategic focus...

Read More
Transforming Healthcare Incident Reporting at York Hospital

Transforming Healthcare Incident Reporting at York Hospital

In a bold move to redefine healthcare incident reporting, York Hospital partnered with Performance Health Partners (PHP), transforming their approach...

Read More