Ask the expert: The tangible and intangible costs of errors

Nurse Leader Insider, July 20, 2012

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This week, Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN, and Deborah Laughon, RN, BSN, MS, DBA, CCRN, outline the impact of errors and safety events on your organization.

Q. What do safety events and errors cost my organization?

A. Errors and safety events cost the organization in many ways. There is data available regarding such things as increased length of stay, cost of additional pharmaceuticals for hospital-acquired infections, or cost of workman’s compensation for employee injuries that would help in supporting the business case for patient safety. This information is often identified as tangible and intangible cost of errors.

Tangible cost of errors:
• Repeated or unnecessary treatments or procedures
• Increased length of stay
• Medical and treatments necessary to treat errors
• Malpractice claims and litigation
• Malpractice premium increases
• Operational inefficiencies
• Marketing costs to instill trust back into the organization
• Employee support from employee assistance program
• Accreditation and Compliance challenged
• Quality and risk management staff responding to incident

Intangible cost of errors:
• Employee morale decreased
• Quality of care questioned in community and by physicians and staff
• Decreased productivity
• Recruitment and retention negatively impacted
• Loss of market share

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