Video Transcript: Culture of Safety

David W. Bates, MD, MSc, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for Brigham and Women’s Hospital

So a culture of safety is the culture of an organization that focuses on the safety of the care that's delivered. In an organization that has a strong culture of safety, providers are comfortable talking about errors and near misses and actual harm and they don't fear reprisal. They understand that when discussions like this are had, that the spirit of those will be understood, and that they'll be used to make the care that's being delivered safer.

It takes time to build a culture of safety. Organizations can measure how they're doing from that perspective. Typically, when you do that you find places that you could improve. We now have good tools for assessing safety culture. They also need to be really careful in dealing with harm events and events in particular in which a provider did cause harm, because it's very easy to lose a great deal of ground if you do punish someone in an unjust way, because if you do that everyone hears about it and things tend to move backwards. So those are a couple of the things that organizations can do.