AHRQ: Hospitals give themselves high marks for patient safety

Hospitals generally seem to be pleased with current patient safety efforts, as 75 percent of respondents to the latest Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) survey on patient safety culture gave their work areas or units high grades. Of those, 29 percent cited their efforts as "A-Excellent" and 46 percent said "B-Very Good." In the 2011 survey, 1,032 hospitals and 472,397 hospital staff responded.

One area of strength for most hospitals was "teamwork within units," which averaged 80 percent positive responses. This composite is defined as the extent to which staff support each other, treat each other with respect and work together as a team.

However, the survey also detected areas where improvement might be needed. Topping the list were concerns about punitive actions undertaken against staff when errors occurred. Only 44 percent said that they felt their mistakes and event reports were not held against them and that mistakes were not kept in their personnel file.

For handoffs and transitions, just 45 percent gave a positive answer on whether patient care information was being properly transferred across hospital units and during shift changes.

Surprisingly, more than half of the respondents within hospitals (54 percent) reported no patient safety events in their hospitals over the past 12 months. It is likely, though, that events are being underreported, and that this is an area for improvement for most hospitals because underreporting events "means potential patient safety problems may not be recognized or identified," notes AHRQ.

For more details:
- review the AHRQ report