Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Health professionals’ perception of patient safety culture in acute hospitals: an integrative review

Julie Willmott A B and Jon Mould A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedicine, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Email: jon.mould@curtin.edu.au

B Corresponding author. Email: Julie.Willmott@student.curtin.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16274
Submitted: 1 December 2016  Accepted: 2 April 2017   Published online: 30 May 2017

Abstract

Objective Globally, the degree of patient harm occurring in healthcare was first publicised in the 1990s. Although many factors affect patient safety, in the US the Institute of Medicine identified hospital organisational culture as one factor contributing to a reduction in errors. This led to the development of many tools for measuring the safety culture of hospital staff. The aim of the present study was to review the literature on patient safety culture in acute hospitals to identify: (1) how patient safety is viewed by health professionals; (2) whether patient safety culture is perceived differently at the hospital versus ward level; and (3) whether clinicians and managers place the same importance on patient safety.

Methods Following a search of electronic databases using OneSearch and a manual search of grey literature, an integrative review method identified 11 articles as being suitable to meet the review’s aims. The search terms of patient safety culture, patient safety and safety climate were used. To ensure relevancy to current practice, the search was restricted to the period 2010–15.

Results Hospital patient safety culture is not a shared vision, because health professional groups have different views. In the present study, 67% of articles examined found doctors to have a poorer perception of the patient safety culture than nurses and allied health professionals. All health professional groups reported a more positive view of their ward safety culture than that of the hospital safety culture. Furthermore, managers of the health professionals reported more positively on patient safety culture than bedside clinicians.

Conclusion This review provides an international understanding of health professionals’ views of patient safety. From an Australian context, the review highlights the need for further investigation, because there is a lack of recent Australian literature in the acute hospital setting relating to patient safety culture.

What is known about the topic? Globally, many research papers have reported upon the correlation between a positive patient safety culture and a reduction in healthcare errors.

What does this paper add? The present integrative review highlights that regardless of the country of origin, there are differences in the way that a hospital patient safety culture is perceived among different health professional groups, particularly between managers and bedside clinicians.

What are the implications for practitioners? Individual health professional groups, and managers and clinicians, have different views on the patient safety culture; therefore, training needs to involve everyone to create a shared vision for patient safety.


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