Relationship between patient safety climate and adherence to standard precautions

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Standard precautions (SPs) are designed to limit bloodborne pathogen exposures among health care workers (HCWs) and health care–associated infections. SP adherence is globally suboptimal; however, reasons are underexplored. This study aim was to explore the relationships among safety climate factors and SP adherence by HCWs in hospitals using newly developed survey and observational tools.


Cross-sectional data from 11 units in 5 hospitals were collected between March and September 2015. A patient safety and standard precaution survey was administered to nurses and pooled with data from observations of HCW-patient interactions using defined SP indications. Descriptive statistics of distributions, frequencies, and Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the unit-level relationships among dimensions of the patient safety climate and unit percentages of SP adherence (P < .05).


There were 540 HCW-patient encounters with 1,713 SP indications and 140 surveys collected. Although most nurses (94%) reported always or often adhering to SPs and generally reported positive scores on unit safety climate, observed SP adherence was 62% (unit range, 31%-80%). Only 30% of nurses rated staffing positively, and this was inversely related to observed SP adherence.


Adherence to the full complement of observed SP behaviors by HCWs of all types was suboptimal. The relationship between safety climate, particularly staffing, and adherence to SPs warrants further testing.

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