Focusing on patient safety in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit environment

Ilias Chatziioannidis, George Mitsiakos, Fotis Vouzas


Patient safety in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) environment is an under-researched area, but recently seems to get high priority on the healthcare quality agenda worldwide. NICU, as a highly sensitive and technological driven environment, signals the importance for awareness in causation of mistakes and accidents. Adverse events and near misses that comprise the majority of human errors, cause morbidity often with devastating results, even death. Likewise in other organizations, errors causes are multiple and complex. Other high reliability organizations, such as air force and nuclear industry, offer examples of how standardized/homogenized work and removal of systems weaknesses can minimize errors. It is widely accepted that medical errors can be explained based on personal and/or system approach. The impact/effect of medical errors can be reduced when thorough/causative identification approach is followed by detailed analysis of consequences and prevention measures. NICU’s medical and nursing staff should be familiar with patient safety language, implement best practices, and support safety culture, maximizing efforts for reducing errors. Furthermore, top management commitment and support in developing patient safety culture is essential in order to assure the achievement of the desirable organizational safety outcomes. The aim of the paper is to review patient safety issues in the NICU environment, focusing on development and implementation of strategies, enhancing high quality standards for health care.


patient safety; quality; medical errors; Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; neonate

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