What are Patient Safety Goals? 6 Benefits for Healthcare Facilities

Last Updated on March 12, 2024

What Are the National Patient Safety Goals®, and How Do They Impact Healthcare Staffing?

Every March, the nation celebrates Patient Safety Awareness Week, a campaign to inspire folks to not only learn more about safety in healthcare, but put it into practice, too. And for healthcare providers, revisiting the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals® (NPSGs) is a great way to do so. Here’s a quick guide to what employers should know about the 2024 NPSGs.

What Are the National Patient Safety Goals?

What are the National Patient Safety Goals®, and what do they mean for America’s healthcare employers? Simply put, they’re a set of universal standards to help providers reduce errors and other forms of “preventable harm.”

First implemented in 2003, the National Patient Safety Goals® are designed to protect patients in every possible care scenario. As such, the Joint Commission — the organization that creates and enforces them — provides safety guidelines for nine different provider types:

  • Ambulatory health
  • Assisted living community
  • Behavioral health and human services
  • Critical access hospital chapter
  • Home care
  • Hospital
  • Laboratory
  • Nursing care center
  • Office-based surgery

What Patient Safety Concerns Are Addressed by the NPSGs?

For each of these settings, the 2024 National Patient Safety Goals® offer universal standards around seven top patient safety concerns:  

  • Identification of patients
  • Surgery
  • Communication among caregivers and all staff
  • Medication use
  • Infection prevention
  • Alarm system management
  • Patient self-harm

And to not just set those standards but update them each year, the Joint Commission assembles the Patient Safety Advisory Group (PSAG), a panel of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers across the entire span of professional care delivery. Other stakeholders like providers, specialists, and consumer groups are also consulted to best understand today’s most pressing patient safety concerns.

How Do Patient Safety Goals Benefit Providers?

In addition to protecting patients, following the NPSGs offers a number of other benefits to healthcare providers, too, including:

  • Reducing errors and infections
  • Securing reimbursement and revenue
  • Achieving Compliance with Joint Commission Standards
  • Empowering Staff
  • Helping meet equity standards
  • Improving on an ongoing basis

#1: Improving Errors & Hospital-Acquired Infections

Because many of the procedures outlined in the NPSGs are so common, they’re at relatively high risk of everyday errors. Time and again, researchers have cited medical errors as a primary cause of serious care setbacks, including higher mortality rates. One 2016 study called errors the country’s “third leading cause” of deaths, responsible for more than 250,000 each year.

By promoting more systematic attention to patient care, the NPSGs may help reduce not only errors but other incidents like falls, pressure ulcers, and health care-associated infections (HAI) — one of the biggest drivers of adverse outcomes in care today, affecting as many as one in 31 patients in the United States. Diligently applied, the results could include improved outcomes and patient satisfaction.

#2: Securing Reimbursement & Revenue

Reducing the morbidity and setbacks caused by errors and infections also helps improve overall outcomes. And that’s not just the operational mission of all providers, but increasingly, the foundation for their financial health. From hospital quality star ratings to performance-based reimbursement models, most providers’ revenue today depends more and more on constantly improved outcomes. And that makes prioritizing patient safety not just a good idea but an operational necessity,

#3: Achieving Compliance with Joint Commission Standards

The Joint Commission is an independent organization  — so, not exactly a regulatory agency. But as the foremost source of healthcare accreditation, it effectively sets the standards that the entire healthcare industry follows. And its Gold Seal of Approval® is widely seen as an essential sign of approval not just within the industry, but general public. So, securing Joint Commission accreditation can help ensure referrals and patient loyalty at a time what those factors have rarely been more important.  

Did you know that CareerStaff is Joint Commission-Certified? Learn more here.

#4: Empowering Staff

Though many are common procedures, other elements of patient safety goals are less familiar. For instance, guidelines around self-harm can help staff protect patients by spotting certain signs they may not otherwise detect. Similarly, better alarm management can help avoid missed care by removing unwanted — and often bothersome — distractions.

Beneficial as all that is in terms for outcomes, it can also improve staff morale and confidence. Workers who may feel overtasked or short on time get a helpful tool for managing a stressful part of the job — namely, making sure the patient is always safe.  

#5: Helping Meet Equity Standards

In addition, the NPSGs directly address patient equity, ranking it among the key factors affecting safety and quality of care. As such, they can offer providers a valuable metric for meeting evolving standards in this increasingly important care metric.

#6: Achieving Ongoing Improvements

Perhaps above all else, the NPSGs provide a roadmap for making meaningful improvement. Specifically, they give leaders the metrics they need to “implement positive change” across their organization. And what’s more, they provide them in a way that’s easy to adopt — an important benefit at a time when leaders have so many challenges on their plate.

Ultimately, following patient safety goals is more than meeting today’s needs. It’s about ensuring that every aspect of a care provider’s operations is positioned for success in the future, as well.

How Do Patient Safety Goals Impact Healthcare Staffing?

Meeting the National Patient Safety Goals is a system-wide job, requiring new approaches to basic concepts across the organization. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to having the staff needed to ensure skilled and conscientious care. And for most providers today, that means having access to more than one nationwide source of nurses and clinical workers.

At CareerStaff, we’re proud to offer America’s healthcare employers exactly that — and much more. Contact us today for more details about what our leading, nationwide network of healthcare professionals and workforce solutions can do for your organization. Or request staff now to help meet your critical patient safety and workforce goals.