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By their very nature, hospitals are supposed to be safe. With that being said, it makes sense for those bringing their child to a hospital to expect the highest-quality medical care that the facility has to offer. Instead, poor work conditions are holding nurses back from treating pediatric patients with their best level of care.

A recent study published in the Journal of Patient Safety revealed that when nurses are satisfied with their work environment, the level of care that pediatric patients receive goes up. During the study, data was collected from hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, and California, which account for a combined total of 20 percent of hospitalizations in the United States. Nearly 2,000 pediatric nurses were surveyed on matters including whether or not grudges are held when workers make mistakes, how safe the work setting is, and if nurses have a supportive work environment and/or supervisor.

Hospitals with work environments that nurses ranked poorly consistently also ranked poorly for hospital safety. In other words, pediatric hospitals with a good work environment also offer a safer level of care, which is critical in a population as vulnerable as developing children. Troublingly, one in five of these nurses gave their hospital a “poor” grade for safety, indicating that improvements will be needed moving forward. In the words of study author Eileen Lake, PhD, MSN: “In pediatrics, hospitals that have better work environments also have safer care. Having a punitive environment, or not feeling free to question decisions, are core ways to identify settings that don’t support caregivers to work safely.”

For now, it is crucial that action be taken to reverse these poor rankings so that safe environments are fostered for nurses and patients alike. With the collective knowledge of and interpersonal support between hospital staff members, human error will be reduced and children will be that much safer in their care.

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