An Overview of Patient Safety Climate in the VA

Objective: To assess variation in safety climate across VA hospitals nationally.

Study Setting: Data were collected from employees at 30 VA hospitals over a 6-month period using the Patient Safety Climate in Healthcare Organizations survey.

Study Design: We sampled 100 percent of senior managers and physicians and a random 10 percent of other employees. At 10 randomly selected hospitals, we sampled an additional 100 percent of employees working in units with intrinsically higher hazards (high-hazard units [HHUs]).

Data Collection: Data were collected using an anonymous survey design.

Principal Findings: We received 4,547 responses (49 percent response rate). The percent problematic response-lower percent reflecting higher levels of patient safety climate-ranged from 12.0-23.7 percent across hospitals (mean=17.5 percent). Differences in safety climate emerged by management level, clinician status, and workgroup. Supervisors and front-line staff reported lower levels of safety climate than senior managers; clinician responses reflected lower levels of safety climate than those of nonclinicians; and responses of employees in HHUs reflected lower levels of safety climate than those of workers in other areas.

Conclusions: This is the first systematic study of patient safety climate in VA hospitals. Findings indicate an overall positive safety climate across the VA, but there is room for improvement.