SDW news brief: Nurses still too scared to speak up when errors occur

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 1, 2011

Eighty-five percent of nurses and nurse managers in a national survey said a safety tool had alerted them to a problem that might have been missed and potentially harmed a patient and yet 58% percent revealed they didn't say anything about it.

These findings were published recently in the new report "The Silent Treatment" produced by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) in partnership with VitalSmarts, a training and organizational performance company.

AACN and VitalSmarts partnered five years ago to produce the seminal "Silence Kills" data that found:

  • 84% of physicians have seen coworkers taking shortcuts that could be dangerous to patients
  • 88% of physicians say they work with people who show poor clinical judgment
  • Fewer than 10% of physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff directly confront their colleagues about their concerns

Wanting to see what's changed in the last five years, the organizations, joined by AORN, conducted another study that surveyed 6,500 nurses and nurse managers. Among the key findings:

  • More than four out of five nurses have concerns about dangerous shortcuts, incompetence, and disrespect demonstrated by their colleagues
  • More than half say shortcuts led to near misses or harm, and only 17% of those nurses shared their concerns with colleagues
  • More than a third say incompetence led to near misses or harm, and only 11% spoke to the colleague considered incompetent
  • More than half say disrespect prevented them from getting others to listen to them or respect their professional opinion, and only 16% confronted their disrespectful colleague

To read the rest of this free report, click here. To read about AACN's healthy work environment initiative to effect culture change, click here.

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