Safety Perceptions of Health Care Leaders in 2 Canadian Academic Acute Care Centers

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Abstract

Objectives

An estimated 7.4% of patients admitted to acute care facilities in Canada experience injury or death due to health care mishaps, and 38% of these events are deemed preventable. Commitment of executive leaders to a culture of safety is important for the reduction of risk to Canadian patients. The purpose of this study was to examine the safety climate from a leader's perspective in 2 Canadian acute care settings, with attention paid to high reliability organization (HRO) principles.

Methods

The Patient Safety Culture in Healthcare Organizations questionnaire was administered to leaders in 2 acute care hospitals in Ontario between June and January 2009. The primary outcome measures were senior leadership support for safety and supervisory leadership support for safety. Misalignment between the safety climate and HRO principles was defined as greater than 10% of respondents reporting problematic or neutral leadership support for safety.

Results

Of the 142 respondents (67% response rate), both medical/nursing leaders and tertiary care clinical leaders were significantly more likely than board/administrative leaders to report problematic/neutral responses. Overall, executive leadership perceptions of the safety climate were not aligned with HRO principles.

Conclusions

The significant differences in response between board/administrative leaders and those involved in frontline patient care suggest that a weak safety culture exists in these 2 health care organizations. The cultivation of a stronger organizational safety culture, in alignment with HRO principles, could lead to lower rates of preventable mishaps and support risk identification and mitigation in perioperative settings.

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