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Whistleblowing over patient safety and care quality: a review of the literature

John Blenkinsopp (Department of Leadership and HRM, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Nick Snowden (Hull University Business School, University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Russell Mannion (Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Martin Powell (Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Huw Davies (University of Saint Andrews, Saint Andrews, UK)
Ross Millar (Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Jean McHale (Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 18 October 2019

Issue publication date: 18 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review existing research on whistleblowing in healthcare in order to develop an evidence base for policy and research.

Design/methodology/approach

A narrative review, based on systematic literature protocols developed within the management field.

Findings

The authors identify valuable insights on the factors that influence healthcare whistleblowing, and how organizations respond, but also substantial gaps in the coverage of the literature, which is overly focused on nursing, has been largely carried out in the UK and Australia, and concentrates on the earlier stages of the whistleblowing process.

Research limitations/implications

The review identifies gaps in the literature on whistleblowing in healthcare, but also draws attention to an unhelpful lack of connection with the much larger mainstream literature on whistleblowing.

Practical implications

Despite the limitations to the existing literature important implications for practice can be identified, including enhancing employees’ sense of security and providing ethics training.

Originality/value

This paper provides a platform for future research on whistleblowing in healthcare, at a time when policymakers are increasingly aware of its role in ensuring patient safety and care quality.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme (Grant No. 14/04/033); project title “Understanding Employee Whistleblowing in Health Care”; co-applicants Mannion, R. Blenkinsopp, J. Millar, R. Powell, M. Davies H.T.O. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HS&DR programme.

Citation

Blenkinsopp, J., Snowden, N., Mannion, R., Powell, M., Davies, H., Millar, R. and McHale, J. (2019), "Whistleblowing over patient safety and care quality: a review of the literature", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 737-756. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-12-2018-0363

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited