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Creating a Culture of Safety in Healthcare

Creating a culture of safety in healthcare is no small task, but you can do it — with teamwork.

As we prepare to attend the American Nurses Association (ANA) conference, I’m getting excited to hear more from those in the field on creating a culture of safety in healthcare.

For many healthcare organizations, integrating a program like CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training is just one small part of a bigger culture change.

When I work with health care systems to help them create a culture of safety, I often find that they’re quick to pass the buck on the bottom line of who is responsible for safety in their organization.

But the real answer — or at least the one I speak of with organizations — is that it is everyone’s responsibility — everyone’s.
creating a culture of safety in healthcare
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It’s not enough to say:


“We have a zero-tolerance policy for violence.”

The truth is that everyone does — but how do you actualize that? How do you work together throughout the hospital to ensure that nonviolence is a reality?

Tips for creating a culture of safety in hospitals

Creating a culture of safety — and a culture of nonviolence — is no small task, but it is certainly necessary for providing quality care for patients and employees. And when you examine the aspects of “culture,” you find a few places where you can quickly make some lasting change:

1. First is the environment.

Go out of your building and enter as if you were a guest to the facility. What does the environment say about the expectations of behavior, both of your staff and visitors? What’s communicated through the signage and the physical plants? Then see how many opportunities to create a culture of safety you can spot inside your building.

2. Another quick way to make some lasting change is to establish a common language.

It's crucial to establish a common language around the topic of preventing and managing disruptive or assaultive behavior and adverse events in your facility. Adopting a curriculum like CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training allows you to ensure that all staff use the same language to communicate on the issue.

3. Require that everyone keeps an eye out.

When you require that everyone in your hospital watches for signs of anxiety (and everyone shares a common definition of what that is) and you make attempts to offer a supportive approach in those moments (again, with a common definition of what that means in your environment), you are more likely to catch warning signs of a potential crisis.

4. Debrief and document.

When you ask staff to debrief and document the outcome of an intervention, all using a common language, you can learn from one another about what strategies are most effective in your environment.

5. Set the tone for everyone.

Adopting a consistent, person-centered way of speaking to the issue of violence prevention is crucial in setting the tone for all employees, patients, visitors, and guests. It’s a great way to ensure that you collaborate as a team on this very important issue and that you work to gain buy-in, not only from all staff departments, but from patients and their families as well. This allows everyone to take an active role in promoting their own personal safety, thereby enhancing the safety of others.

culture of safety in hospitals
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If you don’t equip staff with the tools to recognize the early warning signs, you create a situation where it’s always “someone else’s responsibility.”

If you DO equip staff with tools to recognize the early warning signs, that’s a giant leap toward patient safety improvement — not to mention staff safety improvement. Because they're intertwined.

And so I’m wondering, what are others doing to improve quality and patient safety? What are others doing to keep everyone safe? Can’t wait to hear more and report back!