Increased awareness regarding the importance of patient safety issues has led to the proliferation of theoretical conceptualizations, frameworks, and articles that apply safety experiences from high-reliability industries to medical settings. However, empirical research on patient safety and patient safety climate in medical settings still lags far behind the theoretical literature on these topics.
The broader organizational literature suggests that ease of reporting, unit norms of openness, and participative leadership might be important variables for improving patient safety. The aim of this empirical study is to examine in detail how these three variables influence frontline staff perceptions of patient safety climate within health care organizations.
A cross-sectional study design was used. Data were collected using a questionnaire composed of previously validated scales.
The results of the study show that ease of reporting, unit norms of openness, and participative leadership are positively related to staff perceptions of patient safety climate.
Health care management needs to involve frontline staff during the development and implementation stages of an error reporting system to ensure staff perceive error reporting to be easy and efficient. Senior and supervisory leaders at health care organizations must be provided with learning opportunities to improve their participative leadership skills so they can better integrate frontline staff ideas and concerns while making safety-related decisions. Finally, health care management must ensure that frontline staff are able to freely communicate safety concerns without fear of being punished or ridiculed by others.
Shahram Zaheer, MSc, is a PhD Candidate, School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Canada.
Liane Ginsburg, PhD, is Associate Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Canada. E-mail: email@example.com.
You-Ta Chuang, PhD, is Associate Professor, School of Administrative Studies, York University, Canada.
Sherry L. Grace, PhD, is Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Canada.
The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.