Medical errors in obstetric departments are commonly reported and may involve both mother and neonate. The complexity of obstetric care, the interactions between various disciplines, and the inherent limitations of human performance make it critically important for these departments to provide patient-safe and friendly working environments that are open to learning and participative safety. Obstetric care involves stressful work, and health care professionals are prone to develop burnout, this being associated with unsafe practices and lower probability for reporting safety concerns. This study aims to test the mediating role of burnout in the relationship of patient-safe and friendly working environment with unsafe performance. The full population of professionals working in an obstetrics department in Malta was invited to participate in a cross-sectional study, with 73.6% (n = 184) of its members responding. The research tool was adapted from the Sexton et al.’s Safety Attitudes Questionnaire – Labor and Delivery version and surveyed participants on their working environment, burnout, and perceived unsafe performance. Analysis was done using Structural Equation Modeling. Results supported the relationship between the lack of a perceived patient-safe and friendly working environment and unsafe performance that is mediated by burnout. Creating a working environment that ensures patient safety practices, that allows communication, and is open to learning may protect employees from burnout. In so doing, they are more likely to perceive that they are practicing safely. This study contributes to patient safety literature by relating working environment, burnout, and perceived unsafe practice with the intention of raising awareness of health managers’ roles in ensuring optimal clinical working environment for health care employees.
Buttigieg, S.C., Azzopardi, E.-A. and Cassar, V. (2019), "The Mediating Role of Burnout in the Relationship between Perceived Patient-safe, Friendly Working Environment and Perceived Unsafe Performance in an Obstetric Unit", Structural Approaches to Address Issues in Patient Safety (Advances in Health Care Management, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 99-118. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1474-823120190000018005
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