AHRQ: Less than half of hospitals have nonpunitive culture, safe handoffs

In its annual patient safety report, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) stressed the areas for hospital improvement are implementing nonpunitive cultures, improving handoffs, and reporting events.

Only 44 of hospital staff said they felt that their organization had a nonpunitive response to errors, that is, mistakes would not be held against them or recorded in a personnel file, according to the "Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture 2011 User Comparative Database Report," which included data from more than a thousand hospitals who administered the survey to staff.

In addition, only 45 percent of respondents said they felt their hospitals could improve transfers across hospital units and during shift changes.

Regarding events, 54 percent on average reported no events at their hospital during the past 12 months. Although the initial numbers appear that more than half of hospitals have no incidents, it's more likely that they simply go unreported, according to AHRQ. "This is an area for improvement for most hospitals because underreporting of events means potential patient safety problems may not be recognized or identified and therefore may not be addressed," according to the AHRQ website.

It's not all bad news though. The AHRQ report also highlighted areas of strength for most hospitals. Eighty percent reported strong teamwork and respect within their units, and 75 percent reported that supervisors and managers consider staff suggestions for improving patient safety. On average, most respondents within hospitals (75 percent) gave their unit a grade of an A or B on patient safety.

For further improvement, AHRQ recommends communicating survey results with staff, developing and implementing action plans, tracking progress, and sharing what works with other units and institutions.

For more:
- check out the AHRQ website

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