Improved Safety Culture and Teamwork Climate Are Associated With Decreases in Patient Harm and Hospital Mortality Across a Hospital System.
Objectives: Improved safety and teamwork culture has been associated with decreased patient harm within specific units in hospitals or hospital groups. Most studies have focused on a specific harm type. This study’s objective was to document such an association across an entire hospital system and across multiple harm types.
Methods: The Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ) was administered to all clinical personnel (including physicians) before, 2 years after, and 4 years after establishing a comprehensive patient safety/high-reliability program at a major children’s hospital. Resultant data were analyzed hospital-wide as well as by individual units, medical sections, and professional groups.
Results: Safety attitude scores improved over the 3 surveys (P < 0.05) as did teamwork attitude scores (P = nonsignificant). These increases were accompanied by contemporaneous statistically significant decreases in all-hospital harm (P < 0.01), serious safety events (P < 0.001), and severity-adjusted hospital mortality (P < 0.001). Differences were noted between physicians’ and nurses’ views on specific safety and teamwork items within individual units, with nursing scores often lower. These discipline-specific differences decreased with time.
Conclusions: Improved safety and teamwork climate as measured by SAQ are associated with decreased patient harm and severity-adjusted mortality. Discrepancies in SAQ scores exist between different professional groups but decreased over time.
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