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Promoting safety: Longer‐term responses of three health professional groups to a safety improvement programme

Mary T. Westbrook (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Jeffrey Braithwaite (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Joanne F. Travaglia (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Debbi Long (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Christine Jorm (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Rick A. Iedema (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 9 October 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

Patient safety has been addressed since 2002 in the health system of New South Wales, Australia via a Safety Improvement Programme (SIP), which took a system‐wide approach. The programme involved two‐day courses to educate healthcare professionals to monitor and report incidents and analyse adverse events by conducting root cause analysis (RCA). This paper aims to predict that all professions would favour SIP but that their work and educational histories would result in doctors holding the least and nurses the most positive attitudes. Alternative hypotheses were that doctors' relative power and other professions' team‐working skills would advantage the respective groups when conducting RCAs.

Design/methodology/approach

Responses to a 2005 follow‐up questionnaire survey of doctors (n=53), nurses (209) and allied health staff (59), who had participated in SIP courses, were analysed to compare: their attitudes toward the course; safety skills acquired and applied; perceived benefits of SIP and RCAs; and their experiences conducting RCAs.

Findings

Significant differences existed between professions' responses with nurses being the most and doctors the least affirming. Allied health responses resembled those of nurses more than those of doctors. The professions' experiences conducting RCAs (number conducted, leadership, barriers encountered, findings implemented) were similar.

Research limitations/implications

Observational studies are needed to determine possible professional differences in the conduct of RCAs and any ensuing culture change that this may be eliciting.

Practical implications

There is strong professional support for SIPs but less endorsement from doctors, who tend not to prefer the knowledge content and multidisciplinary teaching environment considered optimal for safety improvement education. This is a dilemma that needs to be addressed.

Originality/value

Few longer‐term SIPs' assessments have been realised and the differences between professional groups have not been well quantified. As a result of this paper, benefits of and barriers to conducting RCAs are now more clearly understood.

Keywords

Citation

Westbrook, M.T., Braithwaite, J., Travaglia, J.F., Long, D., Jorm, C. and Iedema, R.A. (2007), "Promoting safety: Longer‐term responses of three health professional groups to a safety improvement programme", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 555-571. https://doi.org/10.1108/09526860710822707

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited