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Improving patient safety through organizational development: Considering the opportunities

Patient Safety and Health Care Management

ISBN: 978-1-84663-954-8, eISBN: 978-1-84663-955-5

Publication date: 25 July 2008


Increased attention to improve patient safety in healthcare has challenged healthcare managers to consider innovative approaches to meet this need. Organizational development (OD) programs have been used in both health services and other industries to address organizational training and development requirements, and can provide focused, timely, and effective education and training to a broad spectrum of program participants. In healthcare organizations, OD programs can serve an important institutional function by providing a framework through which patient safety can be emphasized as an organizational priority, and patient safety training can be delivered as part of OD efforts. In addition, organizations committed to creating a patient-focused safety culture can use OD initiatives strategically to support organizational culture change efforts. This chapter describes different approaches to including patient safety in an OD framework, drawing from both management theory and practice. Findings from three extensive qualitative studies of leadership development and corporate universities in healthcare provide specific examples of how healthcare organizations discuss patient safety improvement using this alternative approach. Considering the concepts and findings described in this chapter can help healthcare organizations make strides toward positive changes in organizational culture that will promote patient safety on the organizational agenda.


Scheck McAlearney, A. (2008), "Improving patient safety through organizational development: Considering the opportunities", Savage, G.T. and Ford, E.W. (Ed.) Patient Safety and Health Care Management (Advances in Health Care Management, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 213-239.



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