Monday September 16th 2019

ANA calls for a culture of safety in all health care settings

During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, the American Nurses Association asked RNs to help make their workplaces safer to enhance patient care and nurses’ health and well-being. The emphasis on developing this type of work environment was reflected in the National Nurses Week theme, “Culture of Safety — It Starts with YOU.”

At 3.4 million strong, RNs are the largest group of health care professionals. However, RNs also rank sixth among all occupations for the highest rates of musculoskeletal injuries resulting in missed work days. Every day, nurses and other health care workers suffer debilitating pain and often career-ending injuries from manually lifting patients — an estimated 3,600 pounds per shift.

“Injuries to nurses and other health care professionals should not be tolerated as just ‘part of the job,’” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

Patients also deserve a safe environment. Cipriano added, “In a culture of safety, nurses are encouraged to talk openly about safety issues and their impact on patient care. A 2013 study showed that preventable adverse events accounted for 210,000 to 440,000 deaths of hospital patients every year. Clearly, there is still work to be done, and nurses will play a key role.”

ANA defines a culture of safety as one in which a health care organization’s leaders, managers and workers are committed to core values and behaviors that emphasize safety over competing goals. Other signs of a safety-focused culture include openness and mutual respect when discussing safety concerns and solutions without shifting to individual blame; a learning environment; transparency and accountability; and reliable teams.

Recognition, activities and resources

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), an RN, introduced a resolution in observance of National Nurses Week. In its 26th year, National Nurses Week is dedicated to giving recognition to the vast contributions nurses make to the health care profession. Many state legislatures honored RNs with similar resolutions.

“As a nonpracticing registered nurse and member of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, I am acutely aware of how valuable nurses are to the medical system, patients and our society,” Johnson said. “Whether in hospitals, nursing homes, community clinics or any other setting, nurses are integral to patient care. Nurses are our greatest resource in eliminating health disparities and alleviating chronic disease, as they exemplify and lead prevention and public health efforts.  This resolution is a small token of gratitude and recognition for all the hard work nurses perform.”

To celebrate National Nurses Week, ANA offered nurses a free webinar, “Culturally Congruent Care: Why Diversity Makes a Difference,” on May 10. More than 2,100 registered, with more attending in groups. Nurses were encouraged to download the National Nurses Week Resource Toolkit, which included tips, tools and resources to promote the annual observance in local communities and in the media at  Showing strong participation, the kit was downloaded more than 11,000 times.

On May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, ANA also encouraged nurses to engage in a number of activities as part of a National Day of Advocacy for Nurses. ANA provided nurses with a variety of options for them to advocate on behalf of nursing and patient care.

As a result, RNs sent nearly 2,000 letters to their members of Congress to ask them to support safe staffing and a culture of safety.  To get involved, visit

To commemorate nurses’ contributions, RNs and the public viewed the documentary, “The American Nurse: Healing America,” which aired on Discovery Life Channel May 6 and was shown in 12 Carmike Cinemas nationwide on May 11. The movie is also available as a digital download or DVD at Proceeds support a scholarship program at the American Nurses Foundation. Learn more at www.giveto

In the media, National Nurses Week made news more than 1,000 times. Appearing in three national blog posts, Cipriano advocated for a culture of safety and highlighted key nursing issues in the Huffington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Safe Healthcare blog and a joint message with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Acting Deputy Secretary Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN.

What nurses are
saying …

On social media, ANA’s Nurses Week posts reached over 1.4 million people through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Cipriano’s video message was viewed more than 40,000 times, and May 6 brought the most visitors in a single day ever to ANA’s website.

RNs expressed their pride and commitment to safety, engaging with ANA’s social media campaigns, including the #Cultureof
Safety theme and #SafeNursesRock contest.

Here is a sampling of contest entries:

@hillcountrymemorial: #SafeNurses Rock by updating the patient boards at shift change #create healthy #nursesweek2016
@SolomonRanee: No distractions allowed on the red carpet! Medication safety! #safenursesrock
@SecBurwell: #SafeNursesRock, including our own Acting Dep Sec Dr. Mary Wakefield. Thank you Mary! Happy #NursesWeek!
@bakerplotts: Happy Nurses' Week!! #SafeNursesRock #jhh

@AAOHN: It's National #Nurses Week! Here's to all the #OHNs who foster a #cultureofsafety! #safenursesrock #PPE

Thank you for the great social media conversations and for all of your contributions. We hope you had a happy #NursesWeek! See us online via and click on ANA’s social media channels.

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