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Tackling the blame culture to improve patient safety – is it possible?

04 Jan 2022

In this episode of Taking care, we explore workplace culture in healthcare through a safety lens. What is the best approach to support a practitioner’s professional practice to ensure patient safety? How do we regulate when honest errors occur in a workplace environment? 

Host Susan Biggar is joined by Adjunct Professor Debora Picone, CEO of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (UK), and Martin Fletcher, CEO of Ahpra.

Both Mr Fletcher and Ms Sutcliffe highlight the unfortunate impacts of a blame culture in healthcare workplaces.

‘It’s so much easier to blame an individual when something goes wrong than actually to do the hard work to really understand why something happened and putting it right,’ Ms Sutcliffe said.

‘The problem with blame culture is it drives problems underground,’ Mr Fletcher adds.

The guests acknowledge the challenge in creating workplaces that encourage candour by practitioners and patients, to ensure patient safety.

Professor Picone highlights a need to shift the discussion away from a sole focus on the individual when something goes wrong to recognise the role of the processes and systems of care in which they work.

What do the guests see as the main challenges and opportunities for regulators to improve the safety culture in healthcare settings while ensuring there is also appropriate individual accountability?

Listen to the full episode here.

Did you know?

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today. 

Ahpra releases a new episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

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Page reviewed 4/01/2022