The Importance of Leadership in Patient Safety Culture

Joint Commission Quality Data Download blog (01/04/18) Campione, Joanne R.; Maynard, Laura

A new report in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety discusses how hospitals can improve patient safety culture. The study identifies nine common best practices that can only be implemented effectively with the proper resources and prioritization from the organization's leaders, according to Joanne R. Campione, senior study director, Westat, and Laura Maynard, managing consultant at the Lewin Group. The study encourages healthcare leaders to be truly committed to promoting and enabling patient safety activities, and engage in patient safety discussions and devote the time and resources for structured improvement plans. While computers and robots are taking on an increasingly important role in the industry, "healthcare remains a service from one human to another," the authors note. Effective healthcare relies on a certain culture, made up of beliefs and behaviors that are pervasive. Healthcare leaders should aim to instill an organizational climate of patient safety attitudes and actions that take place organically, which will help staff employees to always be cognizant of the best practices of care to prevent patient harm. The first step in the study was to find top improvers by measuring the hospital-level change in culture scores across years. The researchers found that more than a third of the hospitals in the study did not improve. While doctors, nurses and technicians have been trained to deal with clinical issues, they may not know how to address culture, and hospital leadership should be involved. "Addressing safety culture is the key to understanding the underlying causes that can enable or inhibit quality improvement interventions and safe care for every patient, and this activity is dependent upon senior leadership commitment," Campione and Maynard conclude.

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