Speaking up about care concerns in the ICU: patient and family experiences, attitudes and perceived barriers.
A critical component of strong safety culture is that patients and families feel empowered to speak up about safety concerns. Patients and families are often the first to notice changes in their well-being and consistently identify unique adverse events that are not detected through provider-driven means. This cross-sectional survey asked patients currently hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU) and their families about their comfort discussing safety concerns with their health care team, then validated those responses with an Internet-recruited nationwide cohort of patients and families who had been previously cared for in ICUs. Many current ICU patients and families expressed some reticence to speak up. Common reasons cited were concern that the health care team was too busy, fear of being labeled a troublemaker, and worry that the team would judge them for not understanding the medical details of their care.