PROTECTING PATIENTS AND PROMOTING QUALITY HEALTH SERVICES
WHEREAS, the AFT has established its reputation in the labor community as a union whose leaders advocate for our members while working to strengthen the institutions in which we work; and
WHEREAS, protecting the quality of care provided by the U.S. health system is an issue of importance to all Americans; and
WHEREAS, there are very few regulations or effective oversight mechanisms to guarantee the quality of care received by patients in hospitals; and
WHEREAS, patients currently have no way of knowing which hospitals in their community may have recurrent or serious quality problems; and
WHEREAS, it is estimated that 100,000 hospital patients die each year as a result of preventable medical errors, an estimate that many researchers and health professionals believe to be low; and
WHEREAS, the continuing pressure to reduce costs is leading to even more dangerous conditions for patients and health professionals; and
WHEREAS, hospitals and other health care facilities that attempt to maintain high standards of quality find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in a market driven by the pursuit of lower costs; and
WHEREAS, our employers and our union, as purchasers of health care insurance, are in a position to exert substantial influence in support of institutions that attempt to maintain high standards of patient care:
RESOLVED, that the AFT, through the Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, develop tools to assist those who bargain health benefits to ensure that their members will be sent to health care facilities that maintain high standards of quality; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT promote the use of quality as an important standard in purchasing health benefits; and
RESOLVED, that all FNHP local leaders work vigorously with the management of the health care institutions that employ our members to establish error-reduction programs with the following components:
- Establishment of non-punitive hazard and error-reporting mechanisms system-wide.
- Incorporation of methods that promote near-miss detection, early error investigation for systems errors.
- The application of human factors engineering to system fixes.
- The promotion of a patient safety culture through ongoing education and communication.
- The focused efforts to train all employees and physicians regarding the human contribution to safety and risk; concepts of error tolerance, detection and recovery; prospective redesign of systems to reduce the likelihood of error reoccurrence; and the retrospective systems focused on error analysis; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT call on employers to institute "blame-free environments" so that systemic problems that lead to medical errors can be reported, analyzed and corrected in non-punitive atmosphere; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to work for stronger and more effective oversight of the quality of patient care in hospitals and other health care facilities; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT, in the hope of reducing unnecessary deaths in the U.S., forward a resolution to the AFL-CIO convention to encourage all unions to promote these programs while purchasing health care for our 16 million members and their dependents.