Friday, March 16, 2012

Q&A: MGH’s culture of patient safety


Staff whose work directly affects patient care and who work at least 20 hours per week will be asked later this month to complete a survey assessing MGH’s culture of patient safety. The 10-minute, anonymous survey will be distributed via email with a link for online completion.

“The results will help us tailor patient safety efforts to have the greatest impact and assess future policies and programs against a baseline,” said Gregg Meyer, MD, MSc, senior vice president for the Center for Quality and Safety. Concerns such as teamwork within and across units, nonpunitive safety event reporting and learning from errors will be addressed in the survey.

Q: What is a culture of patient safety?

A: A culture of patient safety is an interdisciplinary, team-oriented, nonpunitive environment that promotes discussion of problems and errors to foster continual learning and improvement.

Q: Why is it important for MGH to continually develop a culture of patient safety?

A: Positive perceptions of patient safety culture have been associated with such outcomes as reduced employee turnover, lower rates of health care-associated infections and higher patient satisfaction.

Q: Can a hospital’s patient safety culture be measured?

A: Yes, the science of measuring safety culture in health care is well established. Regular safety culture assessments have been recommended by both the Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, and hundreds of hospitals nationwide have conducted safety culture surveys.

Q: Have we been measuring the culture of patient safety at MGH?

A: Yes. In 2008, the MGH took part in a comprehensive survey of its safety culture and learned an enormous amount about the organization’s strengths and areas in which it could improve. In the four years since that survey, the MGH has worked hard as an institution to advance a culture of safety – an environment in which all employees feel safe reporting errors and near-misses, and most importantly, all are working to improve the quality of care offered
to patients.

Q: Will the results be used to assess individual or manager performance?

A: No. This approach is intended to allow the MGH to identify learning and developmental opportunities, but will not be used to assess individuals.

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