Barriers to patient safety unveiled by report


A lack of teamwork, a negative culture and poor communication are the main barriers to ensuring a safe environment for patients according to a new report.

The white paper, called Patient Safety; Hospital Risk - Perspectives of Hospital C-Suite and Risk Managers, was published by AIG this month. It found that nine out of 10 executives believe an emphasis on safety has to come from the top for it to be truly effective.

When asked to describe in their own words the barriers to patient safety, executives largely give answers related to a lack of teamwork and a negative culture. Communication is also seen as a problem on several levels – from nurses fearing retribution for speaking up about patient safety issues to documentation burdens to the number of patient “handoffs” among hospital staff inhibiting effective communication.

The report also found that patient safety and financial sustainability challenge hospital C-Suite and Risk Managers for their time and attention.

“A majority of hospital executives see patient safety as their top priority,” it stated. “At the same time, an equal amount view failing to maximize financial sustainability as their biggest threat.”

The report found that who is “responsible for” patient safety and who “owns” patient safety do not fall within the same role at many hospitals.

“Virtually all executives agree that patient safety is the responsibility of everyone in their hospital, but half say that nurses “own” it, with only 4 per cent of each group identifying physicians as most responsible,” it stated.

“Despite the responsibility they place on nurses, the C-Suite nonetheless think that nurse turnover rates are among the least influential items on overall issues of hospital risk and patient safety.”

patient safety, barriers, hospital risk, risk management