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Stakeholder safety communication: patient and family reports on safety risks in hospitals

Reader, Tom W. (2022) Stakeholder safety communication: patient and family reports on safety risks in hospitals. Journal of Risk Research, 25 (7). pp. 807-824. ISSN 1366-9877

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13669877.2022.2061036


Safety communication relates to the sharing of safety information within organizations in order to mitigate hazards and improve risk management. Although risk researchers have predominantly investigated employee safety communication behaviors (e.g. voice), a growing body of work (e.g. in healthcare, transport) indicates that public stakeholders also communicate safety information to organizations. To investigate the nature of stakeholder safety communication behaviors, and their possible contribution to organizational risk management, accounts from patients and families – recorded in a government public inquiry – about trying to report safety risks in an unsafe hospital were examined. Within the inquiry, 410 narrative accounts of patients and families engaging in safety communication behaviors (voicing concerns, writing complaints, and whistleblowing) were identified and analyzed. Typically, the aim of safety communication was to ensure hospital staff addressed safety risks that were apparent and impactful to patients and families (e.g. medication errors, clinical neglect), yet unnoticed or uncorrected by clinicians and administrators. However, the success of patient and family safety communication in ameliorating risk was variable, and problems in hospital safety culture (e.g. high workloads, downplaying safety problems) meant that information provided by patients and families was frequently not acted upon. Due to their distinct role as independent service-users, public stakeholders can potentially support organizational risk management through communicating on safety risks missed or not addressed by employees and managers. However, for this to happen, there must be capacity and openness within organizations for responding to safety communication from stakeholders.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD61 Risk Management
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2022 10:27
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2023 06:39

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