The rapid transmission of COVID-19 has resulted in an international pandemic with the cumulative death rate expected to further escalate in the months to come. The majority of deaths to date (May 2020) have been highly concentrated in certain geographic areas, placing tremendous stress on local healthcare systems and associated workforces.
Healthcare is a fundamentally human endeavor; its reliability and the capacity to provide it are tested under stressful conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be an especially difficult test for healthcare systems. Consideration of the humanness of care in the broader context of patient safety can raise awareness of how human weaknesses impact individual clinicians and care teams in ways that could degrade patient safety and quality of care and increase risk for both patients with COVID-19 and the staffs that care for them. These weaknesses are exacerbated by fatigue and burnout, absence of team trust, lack of time, medical illness, and poor psychological safety, each of which can result in reduced performance and contribute to failures such as misdiagnoses and adverse events.
This article published on AHRQ's PSNet explores these weaknesses.