Research findings from Joint Commission Resources, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill, show fatigue among residents and nurses, inadequate nurse staffing levels, and emergency department crowding pose serious risks to safety and quality in American hospitals.

Articles in the November 2007 supplement to The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety also note nurse turnover contributes to the problems and is aggravated by them. Effects of the physical environment and organizational climate were also examined.

The supplement was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ joined with other federal agencies in 1999 to identify gaps in knowledge about the effects of health care working conditions on the quality of clinical care and on the safety of caregivers and their patients.

Articles in the supplement examine findings on key elements of the hospital environment, identify risks to safety and quality, and propose operational and policy solutions.

Because nurses provide the bulk of patient care in hospitals, most research on work environments has focused on them. Research in the supplement reveals that physicians and other caregivers share many of the problems encountered by nurses. The articles synthesize findings on key elements in the hospital work environment and highlight operational and policy challenges in each area.

For a copy of the supplement, “Improving the Health Care Work Environment to Promote Quality and Safety,” call (800) 358-9295 or e-mail [email protected].