Improved safety culture and teamwork climate are associated with decreases in patient harm and hospital mortality across a hospital system.
A culture of safety is a fundamental component of patient safety. Several validated survey tools are available to measure hospital safety and teamwork climates, including the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture and the Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ). Improvements in SAQ scores have been previously linked to reductions in specific safety outcomes, such as maternal and fetal adverse events in an obstetric ward. This study explored SAQ results and outcomes across all inpatient and outpatient care units in a large academic health system. Beginning in 2009, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio introduced a comprehensive patient safety and high reliability program that included numerous quality improvement activities and extensive training in error prevention for each of their approximately 10,000 employees. Over the course of 4 years, SAQ scores improved while all-hospital harm, serious safety events, and severity-adjusted hospital mortality all decreased significantly. A prior WebM&M interview with J. Bryan Sexton, the primary author of the SAQ instrument, discussed the relationship between culture and safety.