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Press Ganey Report Finds Hospital Safety Declined Significantly After Year of Pandemic

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According to a new white paper by Press Ganey, one of the country’s largest and most influential health care quality companies, “safety culture” scores declined significantly among a sample of 54 hospitals across the country after a tumultuous year of pandemic.

The white paper – Reverse the Trend: Improving Safety Culture in the COVID-19 Era – found analyses of national safety culture data and trends prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that after a period of modest improvement from 2017 to 2019, scores for most safety culture themes declined in 2020.

Assessed through an anonymous survey at each hospital, safety culture describes whether the norms and habits of staff and clinicians keep the focus on patient safety. Questions on the survey were extensively tested and validated by researchers, and studies show the results correlate closely with actual rates of avoidable harms, errors, and infections. A separate examination of 160 hospitals by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found similar results, including an alarming 40% reduction from 2018 to 2020 in staff perceptions that management made safety a priority.

Press Ganey found that safety culture declined last year in two of three categories measured. First, they found decline in the category “Prevention and Reporting,” which explores whether staff believe the hospital actively attempts to improve patient safety and whether they feel free to raise concerns. The category of safety culture Press Ganey found most in decline is “Resources and Teamwork,” which covers communication and collaboration between physicians, nurses, and others, as well as overall staffing levels and job stress.

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