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Why a Culture of Safety is Important

Nurse standing in patient room with patient in the background.

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Healthcare facilities need to foster and promote a strong culture of safety that includes a commitment to worker safety, provision of and adequate access to safety and personal protective equipment, and extensive training efforts that utilize protocols requiring specific safety actions. A culture of safety describes a commitment to core values and principles by organizational leadership and healthcare workers to recognize the inseparable integration of worker safety and patient safety (The Joint Commission 2012). This includes recognizing and reporting high-risk exposures and activities, developing and implementing prevention and control standards, policies, and strategies with worker input to mitigate and eliminate hazards, and providing sustained resources to address safety concerns. Management and healthcare workers must work together to achieve this continuous effort which contributes to a culture of safety. Focusing efforts on a sound and sustained safety culture will lead to and support better outcomes in patient healthcare and safer working conditions for healthcare workers.

Better patient outcomes

  • Decreased adverse events such as patient falls, medication errors, hospital readmissions.
  • Improved quality of care and increased patient satisfaction.

Better healthcare worker and organizational outcomes

  • Fewer healthcare worker injuries, including sharps-related and other injuries, better job satisfaction, improved staff retention, reporting of safety events, and reduced burnout (Hessels & Wurmser, 2020; McHugh et al., 2011).
  • Reduced costs associated with decreased adverse events (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2019).
  • Essential for High Reliability Organizations (e.g., safety and quality-centered, patient and worker centric) (Vaismoradi, 2020; Weaver et al., 2020) including sustained accreditation.