Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Analyze a healthcare organization’s capital or operating budget (HCA Florida Mercy Hospital)and create a slide presentation of your findings and recommendations for stakeholde - Writingforyou

Analyze a healthcare organization’s capital or operating budget (HCA Florida Mercy Hospital)and create a slide presentation of your findings and recommendations for stakeholde


Analyze a healthcare organization’s capital or operating budget (HCA Florida Mercy Hospital)and create a slide presentation of your findings and recommendations for stakeholders


Medical–surgical nurse leaders’ experiences with safety culture: An inductive qualitative descriptive study

Lisa Harton PhD, RN, FACHE, Chief Quality Officer |

Lisa Skemp PhD, FGSA, FAAN, Professor

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola

University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA


Lisa Harton, 1016 BVM Hall, Marcella Neihoff

School of Nursing, Lake Shore Campus, 1032

W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660, USA.

Email: [email protected]

Funding information

There are no sources of funding.


Aim: The aim of this study is to describe safety culture as experienced by

medical–surgical nurse leaders.

Background: Safety culture remains a barrier in safer patient care. Nurse leaders play

an important role in creating and supporting a safety culture.

Methods: We used an inductive qualitative descriptive study using semistructured

interviews, document review and observations in a Midwestern community hospital

in the United States.

Results: Results of the study are as follows: making sure nurses are keeping patients

safe, making sure nurses have nursing interventions in place, expecting nurses to stop

unsafe acts or escalate when they feel uncomfortable, making sure nurses have what

they need to provide safe care, organization prioritizes patient safety and making

sure nurses are learning and growing emerged as themes describing safety culture.

Conclusions: Nurse leaders made sure patients were safe by making sure everyone

was doing their best to provide safe care. Insufficient time, too many priorities,

insufficient resources, poor physician behaviours and lack of respect for their role

emerged as barriers to leading a safety culture.

Implications for Nursing Management: Organizations must remove barriers for nurse

leaders to develop and lead a safety culture. Nurse leaders must learn to advocate

successfully for safe nursing care and professional work environments.


acute care, nurse manager, patient safety, safety culture


The Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2000) seminal report on preventable

patient harm identified 44,000–98,000 deaths annually from

avoidable medical errors. Health care system leadership and

researchers responded to this problem by studying systems that led

to errors to create safer care processes while also addressing safety

culture (Gandhi et al., 2016). Despite efforts to improve patient safety,

one in 20 patients continue to experience preventable harm

(Panagioti et al., 2019). Delivering safe care requires leaders to estab-

lish, lead and sustain safety as a core value resulting in improved

safety culture (Gandhi et al., 2016). Safety culture is the product of

Received: 5 May 2022 Revised: 10 August 2022 Accepted: 29 August 2022

DOI: 10.1111/jonm.13775

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any

medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Nursing Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

J Nurs Manag. 2022;30:2781–2790. 2781

individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and

patterns of behavior that can determine the commitment to, and the

style and proficiency of an organization’s health and safety manage-

ment plan (Health and Safety Commission Advisory Committee on the

Safety of Nuclear Installations, 1993, p.339). A positive safety culture

in hospital nursing units resulted in fewer reported adverse patient

outcomes including decreased patient falls, medication errors,

pressure injuries, hospital associated infections and higher patient

satisfaction (Alanazi et al., 2022).

Leader expectations, support, prioritization and commitment to

patient safety, accountability, sharing data, daily management practices,

focusing on safety behaviours, teamwork and communication, learning

and improvement and executive rounding positively impact safety cul-

ture (Campione & Famolaro, 2018; Churruca et al., 2021; Frush

et al., 2018). A systematic review identified that organizational safety

cultures are underdeveloped or weak in regard to staffing, nonpunitive

response to errors, handovers and transitions of care and teamwork

across units (Reis et al., 2018). Failure of leadership to prioritize and

support patient safety has been associated with poor patient safety

outcomes (Patient Safety Advisory Group [PSAG], 2017).

Efforts to develop a safety culture have not had a significant

impact. For example, the Agency for Health care Research and Quality

(AHRQ) Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS) 2021 trend-

ing report identified a 1% decrease in overall perception of patient

safety and 40% of hospitals reported a 5-point or more decrease in

management support for patient safety (Famolaro et al., 2021). Nurse

leaders (NLs) are a subset of administration and management respon-

dents that have the most favourable safety culture perceptions. They

lead Registered Nurses (RNs), a subset of nurse respondents within

the AHRQ SOPS survey, who, in contrast, have the least favourable

perception of safety culture.

Nurse leaders play an important role in creating and supporting a

safety culture and leading a professional nursing work environment. A

professional nursing work environment has been associated with bet-

ter safety culture and patient outcomes (Lee & Dahinten, 2020; Olds

et al., 2017). Adequate staffing, managerial support for nurses and

good nurse–physician relations contribute to a professional nurse

work environment (IOM, 2004). Hospital manager behaviours that

promote patient safety and transformational leadership styles influ-

ence and predict nurse-perceived patient safety (Anderson

et al., 2019; Campbell et al., 2021; Ferreira et al., 2022; Lee &

Dahinten, 2020; Weaver et al., 2017). Transformational leadership

had a significant indirect effect on adverse patient outcomes through

structural empowerment (Boamah et al., 2018). Structural empower-

ment explains how leaders can influence employees to accomplish

their work effectively by providing access to information, support,

resources and opportunities (Kanter, 1993).

Transformational leadership is a relational leadership style in

which followers have trust and respect for the leader and are moti-

vated to do more than is formally expected of them to achieve organi-

zational goals (Bass, 1985). Transformational leadership consists of

four core dimensions. Idealized influence describes a leader who is an

exemplary role model, sets high standards of conduct and articulates

the vision of the organization. Inspirational motivation occurs when

leaders articulate a compelling vision. Intellectual stimulation occurs

when leaders solicit a variety of opinions perspectives in making deci-

sions and empower employees to constantly be learning, looking for

and acting upon opportunities (Bass, 1985). Finally, individualized con-

sideration occurs when leaders coach or mentor to the individual dif-

ferences in needs of employees to help them reach their full potential

(Avolio et al., 1999).

Assessing safety culture in health care has relied predominantly

on quantitative methods that measure varying dimensions of a safety

culture but lack an understanding of cultural assumptions and behav-

iours (Churruca et al., 2021). Through a better understanding of nurse

leader experiences within the situational context of a medical–surgical

unit, safety culture perceptions will be better understood, behaviours

described and facilitators and challenges identified to provide insight

into areas for prioritization or improvement. Therefore, this study

aimed to describe medical–surgical nurse leader experiences with

safety culture in a Midwestern United States hospital to inform fac-

tors that support leading a safety culture in nursing. This study is part

of a larger study describing the similarities and differences in safety

culture experiences between RNs and nurse leaders.


2.1 | Design and participants

An inductive qualitative descriptive study was used for data collection

and analysis. A purposive sample of nurse leaders with at least

6 months experience supporting the medical–surgical units were

recruited through flyers, a recruitment email and during hospital

safety huddles. Safety huddles or short, stand-up meetings occurred

each morning between nurse leaders and their staff allowing teams to

actively manage quality and safety by looking back at performance

and looking ahead to proactively discuss safety concerns

(AHRQ, 2017). Data saturation was reached at 10 nurse leader partici-

pants. Nurse leaders were at a minimum bachelor’s prepared RNs that

had 24 h accountability for a direct care unit or units.

2.2 | Data collection

Informed consent was obtained. Data were collected through a semi-

structured interview guide. Interviews were conducted by the first

author, a nurse researcher with over 15 years of leadership experi-

ence in acute care settings. Interviews were conducted in secure and

comfortable locations chosen by the participants and lasted, on aver-

age, 1 h. Confidentiality was maintained by using pseudonyms during

transcription. Audio tapes of interviews were transcribed verbatim,

reviewed line-by-line and compared with the audio recordings to

ensure accuracy. The second author, a nurse researcher with expertise

in qualitative research, reviewed a sample of audio recordings and all

transcripts to validate transcriptions. Key policies, protocols and


documents discussed in interviews were collected and reviewed to

enhance the credibility of data collection. Observations of 16 safety

huddles allowed the researcher to observe group safety behaviours

and were captured in field notes.

2.3 | Data analysis

Data analysis was conducted by two qualitative nurse researchers.

Inductive qualitative content analysis was applied to analyse and sum-

marize data resulting in six themes (Sandelowski, 2000). Analysis was

manual and occurred concurrently with data collection using a five-

step process (Miles et al., 2014). First, data were managed and orga-

nized into secure files. Second, data were read and re-read while

memoing emergent ideas to capture phrases and words to identify ini-

tial codes. Third, in vivo coding allowed clustering of similar data using

first cycle coding that was continuously revised to accommodate new

data. Then, pattern codes were generated through second cycle cod-

ing to identify emerging themes. Subthemes provided rich description

of participant experiences by providing quotes, emotions and context

to ensure that the voices, feelings, meanings and actions of the partic-

ipants were described in sufficient detail. In the fourth step, interpre-

tations were developed and assessed. Fifth, results were validated by

member checking and by researcher triangulation through consensus.

Findings were compared with what is known in the literature.

2.4 | Rigour

Rigour was established by adhering to the four criteria described by

Lincoln and Guba (1985). Credibility was ensured by pilot testing the

interview guide, flexible, systematic, purposive sampling, ensuring par-

ticipants had the freedom to provide rich information, participant-

driven data until saturation was reached, triangulation of data collec-

tion through multiple sources, accurate and timely transcription, data-

driven coding with member checking, investigatory triangulation and

on-going attention to context. Confirmability was ensured through

bracketing personal bias, investigator triangulation and member

checking. Dependability was ensured through a documented exten-

sive, detailed audit trail. Transferability or fittingness of the results is

determined by the reader.

2.5 | Ethical considerations

The study was approved by the University IRB and the study site

research ethics review committee.


The 10 participants were female and held at minimum a bachelor’s

degree in nursing as was required for the role. There was variation in

age (28–62 years of age) and years of experience as a nurse leader

(2–21 years). All nurse leaders worked at least 40 h a week predomi-

nantly on the day shift (90%) (Table 1).

Six themes described nurse leader experiences with safety cul-

ture. Within the themes, 16 subthemes provided rich description of

the meaning of those experiences (Figure 1). This resulted in nurse

leaders making sure patients were safe by making sure everyone was

doing their best to provide safe care.

3.1 | Making sure nurses are keeping patients safe

Nurse leaders set expectations and held RNs accountable for gather-

ing information from and about their patients and ensuring a

T AB L E 1 Demographics


NL (n = 10)

% n


Male 0 0

Female 100 10


Supervisor 40 4

Manager 50 5

Director 10 1


20–29 10 1

30–39 50 5

40–49 30 3

50–59 10 1

Highest education level completed

Bachelor’s 90 9

Master’s 10 1

RN, number of years

4–5 10 1

6–10 20 2

> 10 70 7

Years as a nurse leader

2–3 20 2

4–5 10 1

6–10 40 4

>10 30 3

Hours worked per week

0–24 30 3

25–40 70 7

Shift most often worked

Days 90 9

Nights 0 0

Rotating 10 1


collaborative plan to proactively keep patients safe. The subthemes

described knowing the patient by reviewing the electronic medical

record, bedside shift report to know the patient and catch things

upstream and risk assessments, when completed, determined patient

risks. This was described as the safest day.

When the patient is admitted there is collaborative,

effective communication with all care team members.

There’s a plan of care to keep the patient safe whether

it’s preventing falls, preventing any kind of harm. To

make sure that we have the best standards in place to

prevent harm from that patient. (RNL04)

Nurse leaders described RNs as spending a lot of time looking for

information that was not always accurate and did not transfer from

most settings outside of the hospital. Bedside shift report facilitated

knowing the patient and involving them in the plan of care which

helped RNs catch things upstream by validating the patient’s condi-

tion and ensuring safety interventions were in place. Although they

shared stories to help RNs understand the benefits of bedside shift

report and conducted audits to increase compliance, they were not

done consistently or accurately.

Handover is mind-boggling to me that people have

trouble getting nurses to buy into it because [I] can

give examples that demonstrate from a patient per-

spective what that means. I talk to my nurses about

the position they can put you in if you do not do it

right. You did not do handover and the IV rate is

wrong, you have an infiltrated IV. All these things that

the previous nurse maybe was part of and now you

cannot even ask those questions. Now you have got to

explain the situation to the patient and doctor, and you

do not have the background. (RNL02)

Finally, nurse leaders described risk assessments, when com-

pleted, determined patient risks to inform a clear plan to keep patients

safe. A review of a risk assessments confirmed that prevention inter-

ventions were recommended based on a calculated risk score. How-

ever, NLs described that RNs not having time and being too busy

were barriers to completing risk assessments.

3.2 | Making sure nurses have nursing interventions in place

Nurse leaders set expectations and held RNs accountable for having

nursing interventions in place. Nursing interventions were defined as

policies and protocols developed using professional standards and

evidence-based practice for RNs to follow to guide safe patient care.

The subthemes described setting expectations and holding staff

nurses accountable for following nursing interventions: checklists,

alarms, warnings and safety double checks and workarounds to keep

patients safe.

F I GU R E 1 Results


The IV policy is a reference that my nursing team

utilizes. Recently there was another unit that wanted

to transfer a patient who was on a nitro drip for

high blood pressures that needed to be titrated.

Currently our team is not competent in that, nor

are we staffed to take care of that acuity to make sure

that we are monitoring that patient safely. So, they

were able to use that policy and stop it right there and

figure out a different plan to keep that patient safe.


Nurse leaders could not agree on how prescriptive nursing inter-

ventions should be to support the use of nursing judgement. They

acknowledged that RNs did not always follow nursing interventions

placing patient safety at risk. Nursing interventions were not followed

because they were too complicated, confusing, unrealistic, ever-

changing, not easily accessible at the point of care, outdated and were

too open to interpretation. ‘You’re trying to coach on fall prevention

to the 17-page policy. By the time you get around to every nurse to

personally coach them, they’ve changed it’ (RNL04). Key policies were

reviewed to confirm this result. During a safety huddle observation, a

NL took over 15 min to explain a 17-page safety policy that RNs still

found confusing and unreasonable. The organization had shared gov-

ernance councils and improvement teams to incorporate RN input

into nursing interventions; however, nurse leaders described a lack of

RN engagement to participate. They also described not enough RN

representation, members not trained on how to use evidence-based

practice to develop nursing interventions and no training on managing

group conflict as barriers.

Nurse leaders made sure RNs understood expectations through

consistent, clear communication, auditing, rounding and feedback to

ensure learning and compliance. They acknowledged inconsistency in

how they set expectations and held RNs accountable.

We have hounded on medication safety so much or

even bigger is shift handover at the bedside. Finally,

we all agreed between the hospital leadership we are

really going to hold people accountable. You cannot

turn your head. We’ve got to hold people accountable

[slamming fist in hand]. (RNL06)

After tracking and coaching for so long, nurse leaders believed

RNs did not follow standards because they lost sight of the patient in

all the busyness and being overwhelmed.

Alarms, warnings, checklists and safety checks were supportive

when they were working, easily accessible and responded to. Nurse

leaders described that RNs did not always respond to alarms because

they were too busy or perceived socialization took priority over

answering alarms.

A lot of socialization takes priority over patient care. I

do not know if it’s because half the time they are so

busy and rundown that when they are not it’s ‘I have

to breathe. I do not want to do any work, I just want to

be able to chitchat and have some downtime’ or if it’s just a culture that we have grown. (RNL09)

They described that RNs did workarounds in nursing interven-

tions because of real- or perceived-time pressure, knowledge gaps

and lack of accountability.

3.3 | Expecting nurses to stop unsafe practices or escalate when they feel uncomfortable

Nurse leaders expected RNs to stop unsafe practices immediately,

reach out to others with more expertise when they were in unfamiliar

situations, and escalate, or reach up to the nurse leader or the rapid

response team, to meet immediate patient needs. The subthemes

described expecting direct conversations about safety, getting the

right eyes on the patient and we do not have great relationships with

our physicians.

No fear. I [RN] would not think twice about stopping

somebody from doing something if I felt it wasn’t the

right thing. I hear people talk about it, somebody will

tell me I saw so-and-so do this and I’ll say how did they

react when you let them know. Of course, the answer I

get is ‘I did not’. Not having that fear would be a safety

culture. They have the power to do it, I do not think

they always believe they have the power. (RNL01)

Direct conversations about safety occurred when a RN would

speak up immediately to anyone at any time to keep the patient safe

by stopping unsafe practices, poor practices or disrespectful behav-

iour. Nurse leaders described RNs as struggling to have direct conver-

sations and stopping unsafe practices that have resulted in patient


Sometimes they do not [speak up]. A lot of times that

is due to hierarchy, poor relationships that they have,

and some of it is based out of fear because they do not

want the provider mad or to get yelled at. There’s

opportunities in pockets and opportunities for collabo-

ration across the organization. (RNL10)

Nurse leaders coached, trained and encouraged direct conversa-

tions and stopping unsafe practices by recognizing and rewarding

these behaviours. They also sought to empower RNs by promoting

patient advocacy, reminding the RN of their duty and engaging the

CEO in advocating for the important role of the RN in the organiza-

tion. Nurse leaders had an open-door policy and followed up on RN

concerns to model how to have direct conversations. Fear, lack of

leader availability and lack of RN confidence were identified barriers.

Fear was attributed to not wanting to look incompetent or challenging

to physicians.


Nurse leaders believed RNs used their resources to keep patients

safe in situations where they lacked experience or were unable to get

what they needed to keep the patient safe. Resources included lean-

ing on each other, other specialties, escalating to a nurse leader or

calling a rapid response team that brought additional resources such

as respiratory therapy and an intensive care unit nurse to the bedside

to assist. The charge nurse was the most valuable resource when they

were not busy and were approachable.

Nurse leaders described that resources were not available,

barriers not removed and negative experiences when escalating

a situation caused RNs to delay or question escalating, thereby placing

patients at risk. In particular, a pattern of poor behaviours from

physicians and other disciplines that was never addressed.

If it’s a one-time thing, you are having a bad night our

nurses do not care. Everyone has a bad day. It’s when

it’s a consistent repetitive [physician] behaviour that

we have tried to address. It’s just a slap in the face

from the provider and honestly the organization

because you are told we should not have to deal with

this and to have it consistently ignore