The impact of safety organizing, trusted leadership, and care pathways on reported medication errors in hospital nursing units

Med Care. 2007 Oct;45(10):997-1002. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318053674f.


Context: Prior research has found that safety organizing behaviors of registered nurses (RNs) positively impact patient safety. However, little research exists on the joint benefits of safety organizing and other contextual factors that help foster safety.

Objectives: Although we know that organizational practices often have more powerful effects when combined with other mutually reinforcing practices, little research exists on the joint benefits of safety organizing and other contextual factors believed to foster safety. Specifically, we examined the benefits of bundling safety organizing with leadership (trust in manager) and design (use of care pathways) factors on reported medication errors.

Subjects: A total of 1033 RNs and 78 nurse managers in 78 emergency, internal medicine, intensive care, and surgery nursing units in 10 acute-care hospitals in Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio who completed questionnaires between December 2003 and June 2004.

Research design: Cross-sectional analysis of medication errors reported to the hospital incident reporting system for the 6 months after the administration of the survey linked to survey data on safety organizing, trust in manager, use of care pathways, and RN characteristics and staffing.

Results: Multilevel Poisson regression analyses indicated that the benefits of safety organizing on reported medication errors were amplified when paired with high levels of trust in manager or the use of care pathways.

Conclusions: Safety organizing plays a key role in improving patient safety on hospital nursing units especially when bundled with other organizational components of a safety supportive system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Critical Pathways / organization & administration
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Medication Errors / nursing*
  • Nursing Administration Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Trust*