The Role of Continuing Education (CE) in Improving Patient Outcomes

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Costs of Preventable Errors

In the landmark report published in 1999 from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), To Err is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System, it was noted that:

  • Up to 98,000 patients die each year in US due to medical errors that could have otherwise been prevented.
  • Total costs were estimated at between $17 billion and $29 billion per year in hospitals nationwide.
  • Errors area also costly in terms of lack of trust with diminished satisfaction by both patients and health professionals.

More recently in September 2013, the Journal of Patient Safety published an article estimating that over 400,000 patients die each year in the US due to preventable medical errors.

A Transforming System

The 2010 Affordable Care Act has initiated broad and transformational change to our healthcare system, with reimbursements shifting from fee-for-service care to value-based care.

In response to the changes upon us, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) launched a two-year initiative to assess and provide thought leadership on transforming the nursing profession. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health stated:

Transforming the health care system to provide safe, quality, patient-centered, accessible, and affordable care will require a comprehensive rethinking of the roles of many health care professionals, nurses chief among them. To realize this vision, nursing education must be fundamentally improved both before and after nurses receive their licenses.

Recommendations - The Future of Nursing

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health delivered 8 key recommendations:

  1. Remove scope-of-practice barriers
  2. Expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts
  3. Implement nurse residency programs
  4. Increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020
  5. Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020
  6. Ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning
  7. Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health
  8. Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care workforce data

As a clinical leader within your organization, how do you champion change? How do we support the need to ensure optimal patient outcomes, while minimizing overall costs across all departments?

Fostering a culture of lifelong learning and enabling staff to lead change, as well as engage in their own path to knowledge acquisition is a critical step towards the future of Nursing.

Learn more about CECenter.


1. James, John T. Journal of Patient Safety: A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care. September 2013. Volume 9; Issue 3. p. 122–128.

2. Institute of Medicine (IOM). To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington: National Academy Press; 1999.

3. Institute of Medicine (IOM). The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.
Washington: National Academies Press; 2011.