Fair and just culture, team behavior, and leadership engagement: The tools to achieve high reliability

Health Serv Res. 2006 Aug;41(4 Pt 2):1690-709. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00572.x.


Background: Disparate health care provider attitudes about autonomy, teamwork, and administrative operations have added to the complexity of health care delivery and are a central factor in medicine's unacceptably high rate of errors. Other industries have improved their reliability by applying innovative concepts to interpersonal relationships and administrative hierarchical structures (Chandler 1962). In the last 10 years the science of patient safety has become more sophisticated, with practical concepts identified and tested to improve the safety and reliability of care.

Objective: Three initiatives stand out as worthy regarding interpersonal relationships and the application of provider concerns to shape operational change: The development and implementation of Fair and Just Culture principles, the broad use of Teamwork Training and Communication, and tools like WalkRounds that promote the alignment of leadership and frontline provider perspectives through effective use of adverse event data and provider comments.

Methods: Fair and Just Culture, Teamwork Training, and WalkRounds are described, and implementation examples provided. The argument is made that they must be systematically and consistently implemented in an integrated fashion.

Conclusions: There are excellent examples of institutions applying Just Culture principles, Teamwork Training, and Leadership WalkRounds--but to date, they have not been comprehensively instituted in health care organizations in a cohesive and interdependent manner. To achieve reliability, organizations need to begin thinking about the relationship between these efforts and linking them conceptually.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Health Facilities / standards*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Social Responsibility
  • United States