Promising practices for improving hospital patient safety culture

January 31, 2018

Researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently looked at promising practices for improving hospital patient safety culture, looking at results from 536 hospitals during a 7-year period. Their conclusion was that among the six large hospitals that improved their hospital-wide culture score, there were three common best practices:

  1. Implementation of routine culture measurement, with a wide dissemination of results
  2. Strong action planning for improvement that includes leadership support
  3. Improvement from all staff levels and multifaceted patient safety programs and education

The researchers published their findings in “The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety” 2018: 44:23-2. Though these were the three common best practices, additional practices resonated as well, amongst the six top-improving hospitals, which included;

  • Action Planning — Process for improving patient safety culture that includes analyzing the survey results, widely disseminating the results, targeting patient safety areas for improvement and setting goals.
  • Implementing Improvement Initiatives and Programs — Hospitals reported implementing Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), Just Culture, Leadership WalkRounds, TeamSTEPPS®, Ticket to Ride and other training, education and programs.
  • Rigorous Survey Administration Methods — The methods of how hospitals determined the timing and promotion of the survey, how they administered the survey, whether they monitored response rates, and if they targeted specific units or staff positions.
  • Leadership Support and Hospital Focus on Organizational Patient Safety Culture — Senior leadership understands the relevance of attaining a strong culture of patient safety and supports continued improvement efforts. The culture of the hospital reflects a shift to more transparency and accountability.
  • Quality Improvement — Interdisciplinary QI teams and committees engage frontline staff in the development of patient safety improvement strategies.
  • Importance of Assessing Patient Safety Culture — A culture survey with supporting material for analysis and feedback is an important measurement tool for patient safety.
  • Consistent Patient Safety Manager — Stability of personnel who focus on patient safety culture.
  • Importance of middle management in patient safety culture improvement — Managers provide patient safety feedback to frontline staff and assist with improvement initiatives and setting goals
  • Event reporting — Error reporting systems are a means to track improvement in reducing near misses and medical errors.

For more insights on these promising practices, read the full article. (Tamara Glover)


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