Leading for a Culture of Safety: Part 2

lradick February 15, 2018
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In Leading for a Culture of Safety: Part 1, we discussed this priority initiative and key sessions coming up at the 2018 Congress on Healthcare Leadership to support you in your own stand for safety.

In this post, you’ll hear directly from speakers Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, CPPS; John “Jack” Lynch III, FACHE; and Doug Salvador, MD, for the upcoming Hot Topic SessionCreating and Sustaining a Culture of Safety.”

 Why is leading a culture of safety so critical for healthcare organizations today?

“A culture of safety is the foundation for all work, from day-to-day operations and care to improvement initiatives in safety and beyond,” offers Gandhi.

But, culture often remains unchallenged because it’s seen as the way things have always been. According to Salvador, there is a mountain of evidence linking disrespectful and dismissive behavior by healthcare providers to the harm of patients. For this to change, Lynch stresses that there can be no compromise on quality of care and patient safety. It must be “embedded as a nonnegotiable,” a core value for all healthcare organizations.

What steps can an organization take to get started and why?

“The most important first step is to measure the safety culture in your organization using a validated safety culture survey instrument,” says Salvador. This includes leadership, communication and interactions right at the front lines. Often, this is where cultural issues exist but are never talked about.

Gandhi points out that it is nearly impossible to sustain improvement without a clear vision for the future. Leaders should set the vision and model aligning behaviors to demonstrate an expectation of trust and respect across all levels of an organization. Lynch agrees. For an organization to lead for a culture of safety, it must also “ensure a supportive, inclusive and respectful environment so that each member speaks up for safety … and feels empowered to do so.”

Are there any common obstacles organizations should be aware before getting started?

Lynch reminds healthcare leaders to expect challenge—and embrace them. These are essential to discovering an organization’s strengths and weaknesses and how to make necessary improvements.  He suggests, “Leaders must be relied upon by all levels of staff … to address changes when they need to be made,” especially when focused on error prevention and safety.

It’s also important to remember changing organizational culture is an “ongoing journey,” indicates Gandhi. Salvador suggests leading these shifts in culture can be “extremely hard and often lonely.”  He emphasizes that support for creating a culture of safety has to come from the top because “setting new expectations for safe behaviors will be met with pushback from powerful places.”

What can attendees expect from “Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Safety” at Congress?

“Though creating a culture of safety is not easy, our new tool, provides a framework for leading an organization toward the ultimate goal of zero harm,” says Gandhi. “Attendees can expect to leave the session with actionable ideas for implementation.”

For more information about this and all of the upcoming Hot Topics Sessions, please visit our online brochure.

Register Today!

Category: Thought Leadership
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