April 3, 2019

Hospital safety culture linked to surgical patient outcomes

By: Judy Mathias

Editor’s Note

A hospital’s safety culture may influence certain surgical patient outcomes, finds this study.

A Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ), sent to administrators, quality improvement teams, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgeons in 49 hospitals participating in the Illinois Surgical Quality Improvement Collaborative, found that OR safety culture had the highest scores (97.7% positive) and hospital management ratings the lowest (75.9% positive).

Hospital administrators had the most positive perception of the safety culture (90.5% positive), and front-line providers were less positive–physicians (85.3%), advanced practice providers (88.1%), and nurses (80%).

Teamwork was rated as a strength by patient care providers (physicians 88.3%, advanced practice providers 90.2%, nurses 82.2%), but was rated as weakest by administrators.

Higher percentages of positive responses on the SAQ were significantly associated with lower risks of postoperative morbidity and death or serious morbidity. There was no significant association between safety culture and the risk of mortality or readmissions.

Improving a hospital’s safety culture may represent a previously unrecognized approach that can be leveraged to strengthen surgical quality improvement efforts, the researchers say.


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