Safety Culture – AHRQ

Angie Szumlinski Featured

“The concept of safety culture originated outside health care, in studies of high reliability organizations, organizations that consistently minimize adverse events despite carrying out intrinsically complex and hazardous work. High reliability organizations maintain a commitment to safety at all levels, from frontline providers to managers and executives. This commitment establishes a “culture of safety” that encompasses these key features:

– Acknowledgment of the high-risk nature of an organization’s activities and the determination to achieve consistently safe operations
– A blame-free environment where individuals are able to report errors or near misses without fear of reprimand or punishment
– Encouragement of collaboration across ranks and disciplines to seek solutions to patient safety problems
– Organizational commitment of resources to address safety concerns.

Studies have documented considerable variation in perceptions of safety culture across organizations and job descriptions… Nurses have consistently complained of the lack of a blame-free environment, and providers at all levels have noted problems with organizational commitment to establishing a culture of safety.”

Culture of Safety” by PSNet September 2019

This information is not “new” and AHRQ has continued to move the bar on the subject of providing a safe work environment where all staff feel “safe.” Safety culture might be high on one unit within a center and low in another unit. Research also shows that individual provider “burnout” negatively affects safety culture perception.

It might be a great time, now that the pandemic is waning, that we take another look at the culture of safety and see if we can improve our overall outcomes and patient/staff satisfaction.

Stay well, mask up indoors, and stay tuned!