Background: Patient safety climate (PSC) is an important work environment factor determining patient safety and quality of care in healthcare organizations. Few studies have investigated the relationship between PSC and patient outcomes, considering possible confounding effects of other nurse-related organizational factors.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between PSC and patient outcomes in Swiss acute care hospitals, adjusting for major organizational variables.
Methods: This is a sub-study of the Swiss arm of the multicenter-cross sectional RN4CAST (Nurse Forecasting: Human Resources Planning in Nursing) study. We utilized data from 1630 registered nurses (RNs) working in 132 surgical, medical and mixed surgical-medical units within 35 Swiss acute care hospitals. PSC was measured with the 9-item Safety Organizing Scale. Other organizational variables measured with established instruments included the quality of the nurse practice environment, implicit rationing of nursing care, nurse staffing, and skill mix levels. We performed multilevel multivariate logistic regression to explore relationships between seven patient outcomes (nurse-reported medication errors, pressure ulcers, patient falls, urinary tract infection, bloodstream infection, pneumonia; and patient satisfaction) and PSC.
Results: In none of our regression models was PSC a significant predictor for any of the seven patient outcomes. From our nurse-related organizational variables, the most robust predictor was implicit rationing of nursing care. After controlling for major organizational variables and hierarchical data structure, higher levels of implicit rationing of nursing care resulted in significant decrease in the odds of patient satisfaction (OR=0.276, 95%CI=0.113-0.675) and significant increase in the odds of nurse reported medication errors (OR=2.513, 95%CI=1.118-5.653), bloodstream infections (OR=3.011, 95%CI=1.429-6.347), and pneumonia (OR=2.672, 95%CI=1.117-6.395).
Conclusions: We failed to confirm our hypotheses that PSC is related to improved patient outcomes, which we need to re-test with more reliable outcome measures, such as 30-day patient mortality. Based on our findings, general medical/surgical units should monitor the rationing of nursing care levels which may help to detect imbalances in the "work system", such as inadequate nurse staffing or skill mix levels to meet patients' needs.
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