10 statistics on patient safety culture

Most medical offices show a strong culture of teamwork and patient care tracking while maintaining adequate staff to address work pressures and communication skills remains areas with potential for improvement, according to a recent Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality survey.

The AHRQ 2014 Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture measures the culture of patient safety in medical offices from healthcare providers and staffs' perspectives. The report used data from 935 medical offices and 27,103 medical office staff survey responses between Nov. 2011 and Nov. 2013.

The following list includes the composite-level average percent responses by medical office staff reported to AHRQ.

1. Teamwork — 86 percent of respondents reported their office has a strong culture of teamwork, mutual respect and close working relationships among staff and providers.

2. Patient care tracking and follow-up — 86 percent of respondents reported their office consistently reminds patients about appointments, documents how well patients follow up treatment plans, follows up with patients who need monitoring and follows up when reports from an outside provider are not received.

3. Overall perceptions of patient safety and quality — 80 percent of respondents reported overall positive perceptions of patient safety and quality. The majority of office workers said their office processes are good at preventing mistakes, though they also indicated that getting more work done is valued more highly than quality of care.

4. Organizational learning — 80 percent of respondents said their office values organizational learning by indicating their offices evaluate the need to make process changes when problems arise and they assess improvements in patient care when changes are made.

5. Staff training — 75 percent of respondents said their office provides adequate staff training when new processes are adopted.

6. Communication about error — 70 percent of respondents reported open communication about errors. Survey responses show the majority of respondents say their offices are willing to report mistakes they observe and they actively discuss ways to prevent future mistakes.

7. Owner, managing partner and leadership support for patient safety — 70 percent of respondents believe their office leadership prioritizes the need to improve patient care, but there is room for improvement.

8. Office processes and standardization — 69 percent of respondents indicated their offices effectively follow standardized processes to get tasks done, but there are occasionally problems with workflow.

9. Communication openness — 68 percent of respondents said the providers in their office are open to staff ideas about improving processes and encourage staff to express alternative viewpoints, but they feel afraid to ask questions when something is wrong.

10. Work pressure and pace — 50 percent of respondents believe their office has too many patients to provide effective care, and staff feels rushed when delivering patient care.

*Editor's note: The 10 patient safety culture composites are composed of three or four survey items. Composite scores were calculated for each medical office by averaging the percent positive response on the items within a composite

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