Perception of safety of surgical practice among operating room personnel from survey data is associated with all-cause 30-day postoperative death rate in South Carolina.
Establishing a robust culture of safety, in which all staff feel free to voice concerns without fear of reprisal and leadership explicitly prioritizes safety, is crucial to safety improvement efforts. The most successful safety improvement programs have all explicitly prioritized enhancing safety culture. This study reports on the baseline results of a program that sought to improve surgical safety at hospitals in South Carolina. Safety culture was assessed among operating room personnel in 31 hospitals using a validated instrument. The investigators found a relatively robust association between better perceived safety culture and lower 30-day postoperative mortality. Studies in other clinical settings have found similar results. The hospitals involved in this study subsequently participated in a program to implement the Surgical Safety Checklist, which resulted in a significant improvement in mortality among participating hospitals compared to nonparticipating hospitals. A recent PSNet interview with Dr. Mary Dixon-Woods discussed the evolving concept of safety culture.