Clinicians place onus of patient safety on nurses

More than 90% of physicians, administrators, and pharmacists, as well as 96% of nurses, say patient safety rests in the hands of nurses, according to a study in the American Journal of Nursing (6/04). Yet, just 8% of physicians cite nurses as part of the "patient-care decision-making team."

This disparity may put nurses between a rock and a hard place when it comes to dealing with physicians or fulfilling their responsibilities. According to the study's researchers, the survey results may indicate reluctance on the part of nurses to question the clinical judgment of physicians or initiate corrective action in response to an error.

The study was based on the survey responses of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, administrators, and other health-care providers from 29 rural hospitals in nine Western states over a 3-year period.