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Three Steps to Creating a Patient Safety Nursing Culture

December 17, 2015


Whether it’s outright disruptive behavior or the inability to consistently comply with procedures, the behaviors of nurses and staff can put patients at risk. These behaviors are pervasive and, apparently, tolerated.

A 2009 survey by the American College of Physician Executives found that disruptive behaviors are rampant in some organizations and that these behaviors can have negative consequences for patients. 97% of 13,000 physician and nurse executives experienced unprofessional outbursts and overreactions, with most saying these happened several times a year and sometimes even weekly. These types of behaviors can put patients at risk.

This usually gets left out of discussions about process improvements to increase patient safety and quality of care. No process in the world solves this problem.

What about hospital-acquired infections? Only moderate progress has been made even though research has shown it’s possible to almost eliminate them by following widely available, relatively simple procedures. safety first 153070285

John Santa, MD, MPH, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, identified the problem:

"For the process to work, each individual has to make a commitment to perform each step each time, and have the courage to correct their colleague when they see an error has been made." ... continue reading.

Again – you can adopt the process and procedure, but it people don’t comply with it, every time, infections still occur. Heck – think about wrong site orthopaedic surgeries. Experts developed the simplest process conceivable – the surgeon initials the surgical site. We still see thousands of wrong – site surgeries each year!

What can you do:

  1. Define the behavioral competencies that matter – usually these include attention to detail, conscientiousness, collaboration and emotional intelligence
  2. Incorporate tools (behavioral assessments and structured interviews) that increase your chances of selecting candidates with these skills
  3. Shift some of the training focus from process to behaviors. Assess current staff and use the results to mentor them in how to change problematic behaviors.

 Patient Safety

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.