Patient Safety Surveys

Patient Safety Surveys

As a New York City medical malpractice lawyer I know that many patient safety issues stem from the work culture of a doctor’s office or hospital.

Different attitudes and work relationships affect everyone at the facility, including the patients.

That is why I was interested to see the results of a recent survey by the Agency for Heathcare Research and Quality, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The survey was titled the “Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture,” which is an expansion of AHRQ’s Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture.

Table of Contents

The Survey

The medical office survey asked staff members at these facilities to provide ratings for 38 different items to measure 10 composites of the “organizational culture” as it relates to patient safety.

These 10 composites include:

  • Communication about errors
  • Communication openness
  • Office processes and standartization
  • Organizational learning
  • Leadership / Management / Ownership concern for patient safety
  • Staff training
  • Teamwork
  • Work pressure and pace
  • Patient care tracking
  • Overall perceptions about patient safety and quality of care

The research effort is robust: AHRQ received responses from nearly 24,000 medical office staff members and 934 from medical organizations as a whole.

The substantial reponse rate (71%) suggests that the finding are accurate representations of the culture at these medical establishments.

The Findings

Composite areas with the “strongest” scores—indicating positive work conditions and improved patient safety—were for “patient care tracking and follow up” and “teamwork.”

“Work pressure and pace” received the lowest safety score.

This reflects worries by many staff members about their ability to handle the workload and minimize the harmful effects of the hectic pace of the office.

New York City medical malpractice attorneys appreciate that problems with workload can translate into a host of medical errors—from improper medical record-keeping to medication problems.

Interestingly, smaller offices with fewer doctors generally scored better than larger medical centers.

Medical offices with one or two providers reported the highest safety averages on the 10 composite areas.

Offices with 14 to 19 providers had the lowest averages, only 57% of  responses were positive.

Also of interest is that single specialty practices had higher averages in all 10 areas than practices with multiple specialties.

Community health providers and physican-owned medical offices had the highest positive ratings across the board, at 72% overall.

The lowest overall ratings were for public medical offices, owned by either the federal, state, or local governments.

These offices only had a prositive rating on 51% of responses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, management staff had the highest positive ratings of the various staff positions, at 80%.

Lower level employees reported less positive perception of the overall work culture.

Patient Safety Improvement

These kinds of surveys are a great way for those in the field to more specifically understand the workplace cultural problems that might affect patient safety.

Consideirng the goal of all of these institutions must be to guarantee patient safety, the findings should be used to enact real, on-the-ground changes which account for problematic workplace culture issues.

The survey results were sent to each of the participating medical offices and AHRQ offered some suggestions on how the results can be used to improve office culture.

This includes communicating and discussing results in the office, developing and implementing specific action plans, tracking the progress and impact, and sharing the results so other offices can learn best practices.

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Founder Anthony T. DiPietro, Esq. is a compassionate and skilled trial attorney who has completely dedicated the past 23 years of his career to litigating medical malpractice and sexual abuse cases against major corporate institutions including hospitals, medical clinics, schools, and other wrongdoers.

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In 2022, Mr. DiPietro was selected as one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators for the landmark cases he’s won on behalf of survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse.

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