Objective: To evaluate differences between the need and degree of implementation of safe practices recommended for patient safety and to check the usefulness of traffic sign iconicity to promote their implementation.
Method: The study was developed in two stages: 1) review of safe practices recommended by different organizations and 2) a survey to assess the perceptions for the need and implementation of them and the usefulness of signs to improve their implementation. The sample consisted of professionals from Spain and Latin America working in healthcare settings and in the academic field related to patient safety.
Results: 365 questionnaires were collected. All safe practices included were considered necessary (mean and lower limit of confidence interval over 3 out of 5 points). However, in six of the patient safety practices evaluated the implementation was considered insufficient: illegible handwriting, medication reconciliation, standardization of communication systems, early warning systems, procedures performed or equipment used only by trained people, and compliance with patient preferences at the end of life. Improve compliance of with hand hygiene and barrier precautions to prevent infections, ensure the correct identification of patients and the use of checklists are the four practices in which more than 75% of respondents found a high degree of consensus on the usefulness of traffic sings to broaden their use.
Conclusion: The differences between perceived need and actual implementation in some safe practices indicate areas for improvement in patient safety. With this aim, the common language and the iconicity of traffic signs could constitute a simple instrument to improve compliance with safe practices for patient safety.
Keywords: Gestión del riesgo; Iatrogenic disease; Patient safety; Prácticas clínicas seguras; Risk management; Safe clinical practices; Seguridad del paciente; Yatrogenia.
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