Key Takeaways
  • Patient safety culture and employee safety culture are typically considered separate areas of interest, which results in organizations independently assessing them, developing interventions and allocating resources to target each type of culture.

  • This study evaluates the agreement between measures of patient safety culture and employee safety culture, and the potential to use the measure of one type of safety culture as a surrogate for the other.

  • Researchers found weak agreement between measures of patient safety culture and employee safety culture.

  • Organizations that want to measure and improve both employee safety culture and patient safety culture should not assume that measures for one construct provide valid information on the other.

The delivery of high-quality healthcare and the presence of a strong culture of patient safety are vital to the continued success of a healthcare organization. Failing to provide quality care can have a significant effect on an organization's financial bottom line. As a result, hospitals are focusing increased attention on improving healthcare quality by creating a culture of patient safety. The effect of poor employee safety performance in healthcare may not be as dramatic as large-scale industrial disasters but has the potential to drastically impact employee health and well-being. Increased incidence and severity of workplace injuries can also create negative impacts on patient safety.

Despite efforts to improve patient safety culture (PSC) in U.S. hospitals, employee safety, part of the field of occupational health, often appears to be considered an afterthought. For example, as part of its accreditation survey process, The Joint Commission (2020) requires that results of an organization's most recent safety culture survey be provided. Such survey results, as demonstrated by references to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Culture of Safety survey, are often focused on patient safety and lack measures related to employee safety (The Joint Commission, 2018).

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