Information for Healthcare Workers

Why healthcare workers are important to a just culture

Healthcare workers are the most important source of information about threats to patients’ safety – hazards, hazardous situations, errors and patient safety incidents.

Healthcare workers are more likely to report threats to patients’ safety when they trust that they and their colleagues will be treated fairly if they are involved in a patient safety incident.

Healthcare workers are accountable for their actions. A fair assessment process seeks to determine all the factors that influenced the actions of the healthcare worker in the setting of a patient safety incident. Those factors will be considered in the decision about an appropriate response to the person’s actions.

In a just culture, if a patient safety incident occurs, peers do not blame one another. Instead they support and treat each other with respect, dignity and compassion.

Top 5 things healthcare workers can do to foster a just culture:

  1. Consider errors and close calls involving peers as opportunities to learn about weaknesses in the system that need to be addressed to reduce the likelihood of something similar happening to others in the future.
  2. Support rather than blame individuals (peers, students, patients) who are involved in patient safety incidents.
  3. Participate in analyses of patient safety incidents without hesitation or fear of retribution.
  4. Speak openly about patient safety incidents you have been involved in, especially if patients were harmed. This makes it easier for everyone to talk about and learn from situations where care was not optimal.
  5. Find out how the organization you work for (or have a professional appointment with) and your health profession regulator assess individuals who are involved in patient safety incidents. Advocate for consistent and fair assessment processes that follow the just culture principles across all organizations.