Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Survey: Nearly 2 Million Health Care Professionals Don’t Feel They Have Tools, Training to Safely Care for Patients

Leadership commitment, staffing cited as barriers to health care excellence

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.--()--Achieving “zero harm” is the fundamental bedrock of safe and effective health care, but a new survey from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare found as many as 1.98 million health care professionals don’t feel they have the resources they need to help their organization reach this industry goal.

Through a national survey, 11% of health care professionals – as many as 1.98 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate of more than 18 million Americans employed in health care – say they don’t have the tools and training to help their workplace achieve zero harm. In fact, only 49% of respondents strongly agree they have the resources to help their workplace achieve zero harm – and just 47% strongly agree they personally have what they need to safely care for patients. While nearly all respondents (96%) said they are “fully committed” to zero harm, more than one out of five (21%) said their role is “too small to have an impact that big.”

Health care is a complex industry built on millions of individual interactions every day, creating countless opportunities to help – and to harm. The Center for Transforming Healthcare, a nonprofit affiliate of accreditation leader The Joint Commission, focuses on changing health care into a high reliability industry by developing effective, durable solutions to health care’s most critical safety and quality problems. High reliability in health care refers to consistent excellence in quality and safety across all services, maintained over long periods of time.

An effective high reliability program requires support and commitment across all levels of the organization – an issue cited as a significant obstacle by survey respondents. Nearly eight out of 10 health care professionals believe lack of leadership (77%) and lack of organizational investment (79%) are barriers to health care excellence.

Caregivers can be powerful agents for improvement, but leadership commitment is critical to creating and sustaining a safety culture that empowers every individual across the organization,” said Anne Marie Benedicto, vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. “Health care leaders have a number of responsibilities, but making high reliability care and zero harm the priority has a positive impact across the organization – from employee engagement and clinical outcomes to patient satisfaction and financial performance.”

As the industry grapples with significant policy changes and looming nurse shortages, health care professionals point to staffing concerns as a threat to high-quality care: Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) respondents believe inadequate staffing is the biggest barrier to health care excellence. In addition, more than half of respondents (54%) believe addressing nurse-patient ratios will improve patient safety.

Since its inception in 2008, the Center for Transforming Healthcare has partnered with leading health care organizations to develop the systems, structures, skills and practices necessary for high reliability transformation and to achieve zero harm.

For more information, visit the Center for Transforming Healthcare website at

About the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare

Created in 2008 as a nonprofit affiliate of The Joint Commission, the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare creates products and services that promote and develop high reliability in health care, including the Targeted Solutions Tool® for Hand Hygiene, Safe Surgery, Hand-off Communications, and Preventing Falls, and the Oro® 2.0 High Reliability Self-Assessment web-based tool. In addition, the Center partners directly with healthcare organizations to assist them in building systems and structures that support high reliability transformation. The Center also provides training and program building in Robust Process Improvement® – Lean Six Sigma and formal Change Management – that enables clinicians and healthcare workers to deliver higher quality, safer patient care as well as teaches and mentors leaders and staff as they create strong and vibrant safety and improvement cultures.

About the Survey Methodology

TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey among 1,050 health care professionals between April 29 and May 3, 2019.


Brooke Vane


Brooke Vane