In healthcare, safety is paramount. From a physician’s Hippocratic Oath to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, everything that healthcare practitioners do comes down to ensuring patient safety and wellness. Still, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins, more than 250,000 deaths are caused by medical error every year. This impact is catastrophic: in addition to the effect on patients themselves, the impact on “second victims” is significant. Second victims, according to experts, are the “healthcare providers who are involved in an unanticipated adverse patient event, medical error, and/or a patient-related injury, and become victimized in the sense that the provider is traumatized by the event.”
While medical errors can be attributed to a variety of things, the causes are often rooted in hospitals’ and practitioners’ attitudes and beliefs surrounding safety. Most practices take a standardized approach to safety, adopting health and safety procedures in accordance with compliance protocols rather than investing real time, effort, and resources in embedding safety into the organizational culture.
However, if a leadership team’s approach to shifting organizational culture is informed by the critical connections between beliefs and actions, these initiatives are more likely to increase levels of safety than if new protocols were introduced without context. In order to change organizational culture in a way that will promote higher levels of workplace safety, leaders must begin by addressing employees’ beliefs.
By pursuing these three essential beliefs, leaders can bolster the culture, business results, and, most importantly, the safety of their healthcare organizations.