Sample Health Care Paper on Patient Safety Culture

Healthcare Organizations across the US have significantly ramped up the focus onpatient safety and quality improvement initiatives. Under the healthcare reform law (2013), healthcare provider’s reimbursements are now linked to the quality of healthcare services, including patients’ experiences. To this end, hospital leaderships are increasingly pressured by federal, state, regulatory, and customer groups to demonstrate an organizational safety culture that assures patients are safe from medical errors. Part of this understanding includes both clinical metrics to evaluate performance, such as compliance with recognized standards of care and complications such as wound/bloodstream infections, ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) or unexpected death. 1) Based on your research, experience and observations in the work place, what is your definition of a “patient safety culture”? How does the organizational culture help or hinder this goal? Should the RT departmental structure include a risk manager designated exclusively to the practice of Respiratory Care?

Patient safety culture refers to a set of rules, principle and methods that guides the work of health practitioners. They are developed by health institution to ensure that health practitioners acknowledge the risks they are exposed to during treatment. It also concentrates on the patient’s risk exposure and errors during operations. The aim is to achieve a consistent undertaking. A Patient safety culture also entails a system where people/practitioners are able to report errors. Thus, the fear of blame, reprimand or fear of punishment is minimized hence workers feel free to share information that may help reduce errors. This culture also ensures that individuals at all levels in the healthcare industry collaborate and come up with ways of combating patient safety problems. Patient safety culture will involve the ultimate readiness of every healthcare institution to commit its resources to address patient’s safety concerns. Precisely, safety culture refers to a set of processes for patient care that emphasizes on accident free health services.

Organizational culture that encourages collaborative and effective interaction between members at different levels and disciplines in the healthcare institution will easily promote an effective and quality service delivery. A culture that promotes hierarchical stratification will hinder development of a quality safety tradition. Whenever people interact freely (irrespective of their ranks or disciplines) it will be easy to report errors without fear of blame or punishment. On the other hand, a stratified organization comes with intimidation hence undermines efforts in creating an enabling culture.

Generally, visible leadership is very essential in improving patient safety at any healthcare setup.  Particularly, this is common in small healthcare institutions which cannot withstand the economic burden of patient safety programs (Barach and Small 761). In addition, visible and formal leadership aids an entity implement good patient safety programs. In view of the above, it is imperative for the RT departmental structure to include a risk manager whose mandate is to oversee the respiratory care practices.

Most would agree that voluntary error reporting systems are at the heart of any safety improvement strategy. The vast majority of errors results in little harm, or has minimal, limited and temporary effects. However, these types of observed errors represent very important opportunities to identify systems’ weaknesses and institute improvements before serious harm occurs. 2) Can a government response to patient safety, in the form of regulations and financial incentives/ disincentives, provide sufficient impetus to hospital organizations to embrace a culture of patient safety with ultimate goal of preventing patient harm?

Government response to patient safety is very crucial in establishing a momentum to healthcare institutions to embrace a good patient safety culture. The United State government (both state and federal government) is fostering the creation of a quality patient safety culture in healthcare institutions at all levels in the country.  Since the release of the sentimental report “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System” by the Institute of Medicine, the federal and state governments have come under pressure to hasten the process. This is done through developing and implementing several policies and regulations that guide health practitioners and health institutions.  This is in consideration to the handling of patients and general activities regarding health services. The introduction of various incentives and grants towards healthcare and health institutions is underway to actively improve patient safety culture.

Nevertheless, government effort cannot provide sufficient impulsion towards quality safety culture. Thus, non governmental institutions are funding some of the activities in this sector to leverage safety patient care practice. At the same time, patient’s active involvement in the healthcare services ensures that minimal health risks exposure is experienced. Thus, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that risk mitigation is done and carried out in the right manner. Risk managers and leaders in the healthcare industry should ensure that Congress directives on patient safety are adhered to. It is only through such collaborative responsibility that health care institutions can embrace a quality and safety patient care.


Barach P, Small SD. Reporting and Preventing Medical Mishaps: Lessons from Non-Medical Near Miss Reporting Systems. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research ed.) 2000;320(7237):759–63. [PMC free article] [PubMed]