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The importance of a safety culture

As showed in section A3, behind an incident we can usually find latent conditions (failures of the organization and design) and active failures (caused by individuals). To tackle unsafe care, we must view the systems as a whole. Assuming this and to sustain the improvement efforts, there’s a need to instil a culture of safety in the design and delivery of health care.  A Patient Safety culture implies that the promotion of safety should be a priority of the organisations.

Patient Safety culture has been defined as the set of values, attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, skills, and behavioural patterns that at the individual and group level determine compliance with quality and safety procedures, leadership styles and capacity to manage the risks to patients associated with healthcare.

Safety culture is directly related to the outcome of the healthcare intervention and is linked to organisational factors, leadership styles, composition and operational capacity and decision-making by clinical teams.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed surveys to access the patient safety culture of healthcare providers from different settings (hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centres). This Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS®) could be used to identify strengths and opportunities of an organisation and to compare the results with the available Databases.

The areas of patient safety culture assessed by the AHRQ SOPS® surveys include: 1

  • Communication About Error.
  • Communication Openness.
  • Organizational Learning—Continuous Improvement.
  • Overall Rating on Patient Safety.
  • Response to Error.
  • Staffing.
  • Supervisor and Management Support for Patient Safety.
  • Teamwork.
  • Work Pressure and Pace.

You can use these surveys for free at your institution. They’re available at:

1. What Is Patient Safety Culture? | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [Internet]. [cited 2022 Apr 12].
Available from:

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