safety culture, human error, patient safety, incidents, healthcare, human factors
Patient safety in healthcare has become a national objective. Healthcare organizations are striving to improve patient safety and have turned to high reliability organizations as those in which to model. One initiative taken on by healthcare is improving patient safety culture--shifting from one of a 'no harm, no foul' to a culture of learning that encourages the reporting of errors, even those in which patient harm does not occur. Lacking from the literature, however, is an understanding of how safety culture impacts outcomes. While there has been some research done in this area, and safety culture is argued to have an impact, the findings are not very diagnostic. In other words, safety culture has been studied such that an overall safety culture rating is provided and it is shown that a positive safety culture improves outcomes. However, this method does little to tell an organization what aspects of safety culture impact outcomes. Therefore, this dissertation sought to answer that question but analyzing safety culture from multiple dimensions. The results found as a part of this effort support previous work in other domains suggesting that hospital management and supervisor support does lead to improved perceptions of safety. The link between this support and outcomes, such as incidents and incident reporting, is more difficult to determine. The data suggests that employees are willing to report errors when they occur, but the low occurrence of such reportable events in healthcare precludes them from doing so. When a closer look was taken at the type of incidents that were reported, a positive relationship was found between support for patient safety and medication incidents. These results initially seem counterintuitive. To suggest a positive relationship between safety culture and medication incidents on the surface detracts from the research in other domains suggesting the opposite. It could be the case that an increase in incidents leads an organization to implement additional patient safety efforts, and therefore employees perceive a more positive safety culture. Clearly more research is needed in this area. Suggestions for future research and practical implications of this study are provided.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Wilson, Katherine Ann, "Does Safety Culture Predict Clinical Outcomes?" (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3413.