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VOLUME 45 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2010

The Relationship between Organizational Leadership for Safety and Learning from Patient Safety Events

Objective. To examine the relationship between organizational leadership for patient safety and five types of learning from patient safety events (PSEs).

Study Setting. Forty-nine general acute care hospitals in Ontario, Canada.

Study Design. A nonexperimental design using cross-sectional surveys of hospital patient safety officers (PSOs) and patient care managers (PCMs). PSOs provided data on organization-level learning from (a) minor events, (b) moderate events, (c) major near misses, (d) major event analysis, and (e) major event dissemination/communication. PCMs provided data on organizational leadership (formal and informal) for patient safety.

Extraction Methods. Hospitals were the unit of analysis. Seemingly unrelated regression was used to examine the influence of formal and informal leadership for safety on the five types of learning from PSEs. The interaction between leadership and hospital size was also examined.

Principal Findings. Formal organizational leadership for patient safety is an important predictor of learning from minor, moderate, and major near-miss events, and major event dissemination. This relationship is significantly stronger for small hospitals (<100 beds).

Conclusions. We find support for the relationship between patient safety leadership and patient safety behaviors such as learning from safety events. Formal leadership support for safety is of particular importance in small organizations where the economic burden of safety programs is disproportionately large and formal leadership is closer to the front lines.

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