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08. Psychological safety

Psychological safety refers to the shared belief that a team can deal with complex challenges when there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Thus, safer care is provided when the causes and ways to avoid clinical errors can be discussed and analyzed without fear of criticism or sanctions.

The term “speaking up” is used to refer to the assertive communication of quality and patient safety concerns by a team member through information, questions, or opinions in situations where a healthcare professional neglects, forgets or even ignores clinical guidelines to prevent patient harm.

In a recent study in Austria, 32.3% of surveyed physicians and nurses said they had not expressed concerns regarding patient safety and 41.6% had kept ideas to themselves that could have improved patient safety in their unit. An equivalent study with medical students revealed that 59% had not felt able to speak up in a critical situation.

 

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