Ideas and Incentives for Promoting Safety Culture

Safety culture needs to be nurtured. It also needs processes that promote it, and systems that support the processes. Is your organization doing enough?

resource thumbnailThe Joint Commission renewed focus on patient safety in 2017 when it issued a Sentinel Alert1 stating failure by leadership to create an effective safety culture contributes to adverse events.

The Joint Commission’s findings followed evidence released in 2016 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that showed positive correlation between the strength of a hospital’s safety culture and its patient safety improvement2, and came after the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) presented new recommendations3 for hospital incident reporting systems. Common bonds among these and other studies are that leadership drives culture, and culture is key to improving quality and safety.

The Joint Commission's Sentinel Event Database cited shortcomings in reporting processes and systems as contributing factors to many types of adverse events. These shortcomings include:

  • Maintaining a non-punitive culture
  • Not providing positive support for patient event reporting
  • Insufficient feedback to staff who report safety vulnerabilities and events

Download this tool to learn how incident reporting systems can help mitigate these shortcomings.


1 Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert “The essential role of leadership in developing a safety culture” Issue 57, March 1, 2017.
2 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality “Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2016 User Comparative Database Report” March
2016. AHRQ Publication No. 16-0021-EF.
3 National Patient Safety Foundation “Free From Harm: Accelerating Patient Safety Improvement Fifteen Years After To Err is Human” 2015.