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How to support a patient safety culture

Culture in health care settings is key to patient safety. Everyone has a role in creating and nurturing an environment where colleagues feel able to speak up about unsafe practice.  

How is a patient safety culture environment developed?

  • Leaders create a blame free environment where staff speak up about patient safety issues with a focus on preventing future issues
  • Leaders promote trust by implementing teachable moments when they hear of unsafe practice. For example asking staff “how do we learn from this experience” or providing staff educational resources.   
  • Leaders support staff who speak up and share information, when appropriate, that led to changes in practice
  •  preventing a similar situation in the future. 

If a regulated health care professional or a facility suspects a health care professional may have sexually abused a patient, it is a legal reporting requirement.

Here are some guiding questions you can use to reflect on whether your organizational culture is psychologically safe: 

  • Does your organization make it clear that a patient safety culture matters and is expected??
  • Does your organization emphasise increasing patient safety?
  • Do employees, including management, consistently demonstrate and role model a patient safety culture?
  • Are staff encouraged to bring patient safety issues forward (for example, with colleagues, through an incident reporting system, to management)
  • Is there a safe, convenient way for staff to voice their concerns?
  • Do widely accepted practices in the organization support health and safety?

Download and print: Patient safety culture fact sheet

Page last reviewed March 02, 2020