Hospital employees' psychological safety linked to stronger infection control efforts

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Hospitals that foster high levels of psychological safety are more likely to implement comprehensive infection control programs with social interventions that require staff feedback, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System surveyed a random sample of infection preventionists from nearly 900 hospitals nationwide in 2017. The survey included questions on hospitals' infection control program characteristics, organizational factors and psychological safety.

Only 38 percent of hospitals reported high psychological safety, which refers to the shared belief that team members will not be reprimanded for raising concerns, asking questions or making mistakes.

Researchers found hospitals with high psychological safety were more likely to use infection prevention practices that require employees to speak up or go against the status quo.

"Multiple studies have shown that organizational efforts to prevent [healthcare-associated infections] require both technical and socioadaptive interventions," the study authors said in a news release. "Ensuring that infection prevention programs are well supported may enhance safety climates and provide a platform for organizations to build a culture of psychological safety to improve patient safety."

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