Safety subcultures in health-care organizations and managing medical error

Reema Sirriyeh, Rebecca Lawton, Gerry Armitage, Peter Gardner, Sally Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Leadership has been proposed as a key latent factor influencing the safety culture of an organization, the likelihood of errors occurring and the way in which these are managed. Therefore, when an error occurs, managers have an integral role to ensure that the most desirable outcomes are achieved for patients, health-care staff and their organization. Semistructured interviews were conducted in a large UK teaching hospital to explore the perspectives of staff who are tasked in some way with managing patient safety. Data from 26 transcripts were analysed using an adapted version of Spencer's (2003) qualitative framework, which revealed five primary themes. This paper reports findings from two overarching primary themes, described as being management and safety subcultures. These themes describe experiences of managing medical errors and the subgroup variations between professions, ranks and specialties in attitudes and behaviours towards error, and its management in a large National Health Service Trust. We discuss implications for health-care managers and health professionals in developing a stronger and more unified safety culture in their organizations, along with considerations for academic researchers when undertaking health services research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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