Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 15(3) September 2002 : 11-21.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2002.19154

Canadian Nurses' Perceptions of Patient Safety in Hospitals

Wendy Nicklin and Janice McVeety


The topic of patient safety within the health care system is receiving increasing attention. The Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses conducted a national survey on nurses' perceptions of patient safety, using focus groups from Academic Health Science Centres. Over a three month time frame, 22 organizations, and 33 focus groups comprised of 503 nurses provided responses to six questions regarding patient safety in hospitals. the study was designed as a preliminary fact finding initiative resulting in this descriptive report of the concerns as identified within the focus groups. With each issue identification, they were coded and grouped into 23 themes. Nurses overwhelmingly responded that the health care environment, in which they provide care, presents escalating risk to their patients. In particular, Workload/Pace of Work, Human Resources, Nursing Shortage/Staffing, Restructuring/Bed Closures, Patients/Clients, Systems Issues, Physical Environment and Technology/Specialization were themes emphasized as contributing to increased risk in patient care. Health care leaders must play a key role in developing strategies to address the issues nurses have identified and demonstrate a commitment to controlling the situation. This study encourages research into a more explicit understanding of the issues and identification of strategies to address patient safety in health care.

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