10 critical factors impacting a safety culture

Most safety problems have deadly or life altering consequences. That's especially true in health-care organizations. Medical errors, quality of care and infection rates are clear examples.

In a recent study published by the American College of Surgeons, Martin Makary, professor of surgery and health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore reports, "While we have traditionally only studied the incremental patient benefits of different medications and surgical interventions, it turns out that organizational culture has a big impact on patient outcomes."

The study looked at the impact of organizational culture and teamwork on patient outcomes by studying surgical site infection rates after colon procedures at seven Minnesota hospitals. They found these 10 factors influenced infection rates:

  • Overall perceptions of patient safety

  • Teamwork across units

  • Organizational learning

  • Feedback and communication about error

  • Management support for patient safety

  • Teamwork within units

  • Communication openness

  • Supervisor/manager expectations of actions promoting safety

  • Non-punitive response to error

  • Frequency of events reported.

This study found that "the way we do things around here" was "a compilation of burnout, perceptions of management, the connectedness of care and staff's willingness to speak up when they have a concern." Makary concluded, "Variation in organizational culture may be an important factor in understanding the broader endemic issue of variation in medical quality."

If your organization is concerned about safety, how does your culture measure up against these 10 factors? How do you know — where's your data?
Team building and organizational culture is the major determinant of health and safety. It's also a key factor in profitability, productivity, customer service, quality, innovation and other critical performance outcomes.

For over three decades Jim Clemmer's keynote presentations, workshops and management team retreats have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Based in Kitchener, Ont., he has written seven best-selling books as well as countless articles, blogs and newsletters. The Clemmer Group is Zenger Folkman's Canadian strategic partner, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations. Visit www.clemmergroup.com for more information and to contact Jim.