Improving patient safety: The comparative views of patient-safety specialists, workforce staff and managers

Jeffrey Braithwaite*, Mary T. Westbrook, Maureen Robinson, Sarah Michael, Christy Pirone, Philip Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Methods for improving patient safety are predicated on cooperation between healthcare groups, but are the views of health professionals involved in promoting safety shared by other healthcare workforce staff and managers? Aim: To compare patient-safety suggestions from health workforce managerial and staff groups with those of patient-safety specialists. Method: Samples of managers (424) and staff (1214) in the South Australian state health system and 131 Australian patient-safety specialists were asked to write suggestions for improving patient safety. Group responses were content analysed and compared. Results: Patient-safety specialists (83.2%) were more likely to make suggestions than were workforce managers (57.8%) or staff (44.1%). Workforce members from clinical professions were more likely than non-clinicians to tender suggestions. No relationship existed between the importance specialists and managers (ρ=-0.062, p=0.880) and specialists and staff (ρ=-0.046, p=0.912) attached to nine categories of suggestions. There was a high correlation between the importance that managers and nonmanagers attached to safety strategies (ρ=0.817, ρ=0.011). Among those who made suggestions, specialists were more likely to suggest implementing reviews and guidelines, and incident reporting. Workforce groups were more likely to recommend increased and improved staffing and staffing conditions, and better equipment and infrastructure. There were no significant differences in the proportions of group members recommending: improving management and leadership; increasing staff safety education and supervision; communication and teamwork; improved patient focus; or tackling specific safety projects. Implications: Differences between safety specialists' and workforce groups' beliefs about how to improve patient safety may impede the successful implementation of patient-safety programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-431
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Quality and Safety
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


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