Creating a Culture of Patient Safety

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<p>For years, experts have said that improvements in patient safety will hinge as much on transforming the culture of health care organizations as on specific changes in the delivery of services. Yet, no blueprint for a "safety culture" exists.<br><br>In the Commonwealth Fund-supported <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21399&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D362681%26%23doc362681">"Stories from the Sharp End: Case Studies in Safety Improvement"</a> (<em>Milbank Quarterly,</em> March 2006), Douglas McCarthy and David Blumenthal, M.D., highlight promising techniques for stimulating cultural change within health care organizations. Kaiser Permanente of California and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, for example, adapted strategies from aviation--including crew resource management training and pre-flight checklists--to improve teamwork and communication among their surgical and labor/delivery teams. At Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, multidisciplinary rapid response teams helped to reduce acute medical crises by as much as 60 percent.<br><br>The case studies demonstrate that a culture of safety does not just evolve, but must be actively created and encouraged by health care organizations, policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders.</p>