Reducing Hospital Errors: Interventions that Build Safety Culture

Posted: 24 Mar 2013

See all articles by Sara J. Singer

Sara J. Singer

Harvard School of Public Health

Timothy J. Vogus

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2013

Abstract

Hospital errors are a seemingly intractable problem and continuing threat to public health. Errors resist intervention because too often the interventions deployed fail to address the fundamental source of errors: weak organizational safety culture. This review applies and extends a theoretical model of safety culture that suggests it is a function of interrelated processes of enabling, enacting, and elaborating that can reduce hospital errors over time. In this model, enabling activities help shape perceptions of safety climate, which promotes enactment of safety culture. We then classify a broad array of interventions as enabling, enacting, or elaborating a culture of safety. Our analysis, which is intended to guide future attempts to both study and more effectively create and sustain a safety culture, emphasizes that isolated interventions are unlikely to reduce the underlying causes of hospital errors. Instead, reducing errors requires systemic interventions that address the interrelated processes of safety culture in a balanced manner.

Suggested Citation

Singer, Sara J. and Vogus, Timothy J., Reducing Hospital Errors: Interventions that Build Safety Culture (March 2013). Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 34, pp. 373-396, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2238560 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031912-114439

Sara J. Singer (Contact Author)

Harvard School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Timothy J. Vogus

Vanderbilt University - Organizational Behavior ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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