The 27th of May is the day earmarked globally to celebrate Emergency Medicine (EM). World EM Day aims to bring together the world population and decision-makers to think and talk about emergency medical care.
This year’s World EM Day which happens to be on Saturday the 27th of May, 2023, is themed “Your Safety, Our Priority”. Safety is a critical concern in the emergency room (ER). Staff at the ER work in a high-pressure environment where every second and action counts, therefore any single misstep can have serious consequences. Patients who report to the ER need treatment in a safe and therapeutic environment, same as the ER staff need to work in a safe and conducive environment, having the right number of staff working within the right number of hours and with the right number of patients at a particular time. Hence, there is a need to prioritize safety in every activity done in the ER.
Contrary to the above, it can generally be observed in the various ERs the over-boarding of patients, limited medical logistics, and inadequate staffing, which pose safety concerns to the patients and staff. Studies have shown that it is essential to ensure staff in the ER are not overworked, and that they should take care of the right number of patients for the right number of hours. Overworking staff can result in decreased quality of care, burnout and high turnover, reduced staff morale, and increased healthcare costs. Therefore, by prioritizing staff safety and well-being, healthcare facilities can provide high-quality care and improve patient outcomes.
There is, therefore, the need to identify and address potential safety hazards in the ER, including ensuring proper maintenance and functioning of medical equipment and also identifying and addressing ergonomic risks that could lead to musculoskeletal injuries. This implies that, if safety concerns are identified and addressed, there would be a reduction in the risk of harm to both patients and healthcare providers.
One other way to also ensure safety in the ER is by adopting evidence-based practices. Research has shown that certain interventions can significantly reduce the risk of harm to both patients and healthcare providers. For example, studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of using bar-code technology to ensure accurate medication administration, implementing checklists to prevent errors in critical procedures, and conducting safety huddles to promote communication and teamwork.
In addition, there is a need to ensure that ER workers are properly trained and equipped to handle emergencies. This includes providing ongoing education and training on safety protocols and procedures, as well as ensuring that staff members have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety resources.
Furthermore, there is a need to foster a culture of safety within the ER. This means creating an environment where staff feels comfortable reporting safety concerns, leading to a shared commitment to continuous improvement. Safety in the ER can only be ensured through organizational culture when there is a collaborative effort between clients, ER workers, and every member of the team. There should always be clear and effective communication, which creates the willingness to speak up to any safety concerns, resulting in a safety culture that benefits everyone.
Based on the aforementioned, it is very crucial for all stakeholders; the client, emergency room workers, administrators and managers of hospitals, traditional leaders, the media, the government, the Emergency Society of Ghana, the African Federation for Emergency Medicine, The Ghana Medical Association and the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association to work together to ensure safety in our hospitals, especially in the ER.
In view of this, the Accidents and Emergency Department of Ho Teaching Hospital lined up week-long activities: stakeholders’ engagements- virtual meetings with all referring facilities in Volta/Oti Regions, media engagements, family meetings with Ho Municipal Hospital, training and symposium, and fun games to commemorate this year’s celebration.
A very good appreciation goes to all emergency room workers across the world for their sacrifices and significant contributions to emergency healthcare delivery.
A happy World EM Day to all ER workers at the Ho Teaching Hospital, across Ghana and the globe.
Mr George Sedinam Boni
Emergency Nurse Specialist
Ho Teaching Hospital
Registered Nurse/Health Editor
Ho Teaching Hospital