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What are some ways that leadership can communicate patient safety and a just culture to staff?


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If the culture of the organization is to truly be patient-safety-focused, this it is absolutely critical that leadership set the example by communicating to all employees, including managers, medical staff, and board members, that patient safety is a priority organizational strategic goal. There are many steps leadership can take to ensure that they mean business when they say patient safety is an important component of success for the organization. The following is a checklist for leadership to ensure they are communicating this priority effectively:

  • Make sure patient safety issues are discussed at senior leadership and board meetings.
  • Do walk-arounds and talk to staff about what they perceive are serious patient safety issues.
  • Ensure senior leadership representatives are involved in performance improvement and patient safety and risk management committees; their attendance and participation should be required.
  • Ensure patient safety education is presented at new-staff and medical staff orientation programs, as well as at regularly scheduled educational sessions.
  • Provide a “Lessons Learned” forum where staff can present actual adverse events to their colleagues and ask them to provide to the group their plans for how these issues will be prevented from happening again.
  • If a plan was successful, ask staff to share how this was accomplished with the rest of the organization and promote these successes throughout the organization.
  • Make patient safety a part of the competencies and performance evaluations for every hospital employee, the medical staff, the governing board.

Vivian B. Miller, BA, CPHQ, LHRM, CPHRM, FASHRM

(February 2011)