Soft Factors, Smooth Transport? The role of safety climate and team processes in reducing adverse events during intrahospital transport in intensive care

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Abstract

Background:

Intrahospital patient transports (IHTs) in intensive care involve an appreciable risk of adverse events (AEs). Research on determinants of AE occurrence during IHT has hitherto focused on patient, transport, and intensive care unit (ICU) characteristics. By contrast, the role of “soft” factors, although arguably relevant for IHTs and a topic of interest in general health care settings, has not yet been explored.

Purpose:

The study aims at examining the effect of safety climate and team processes on the occurrence of AE during IHT and whether team processes mediate the effect of safety climate.

Methodology/Approach:

Data stem from a noninterventional, observational multicenter study in 33 ICUs (from 12 European countries), with 858 transports overall recorded during 28 days. AEs include medication errors, dislodgments, equipment failures, and delays. Safety climate scales were taken from the “Patient Safety Climate in Healthcare Organizations” (short version), team processes scales from the “Leiden Operating Theatre and Intensive Care Safety” questionnaire. Patient condition was assessed with NEMS (Nine Equivalents of Nursing Manpower Use Score). All other variables could be directly observed. Hypothesis testing and assessment of effects rely on bivariate correlations and binomial logistic multilevel models (with ICU as random effect).

Findings:

Both safety climate and team processes are comparatively important determinants of AE occurrence, also when controlling for transport-, staff-, and ICU-related variables. Team processes partially mediate the effect of safety climate. Patient condition and transport duration are consistently related with AE occurrence, too.

Practice Implications:

Unlike most patient, transport, and ICU characteristics, safety climate and team processes are basically amenable to managerial interventions. Coupled with their considerable effect on AE occurrence, this makes pertinent endeavors a potentially promising approach for improving patient safety during IHT. Although literature suggests that safety climate is slow and hard to change (also compared to team processes), efforts to improve safety climate should not be forgone.

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