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In October 2011, the Center for Transforming Healthcare launched its sixth project which aims to optimize behaviors and practices resulting in an improved safety culture that reinforces and supports the prevention of patient harm. A safety culture enables trust. It empowers staff to speak up about risks to patients, and report errors and near misses, all of which drive improvement. A safety culture within health care can be defined as the summary of knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that staff share about the primary importance of the well-being and care of the patients they serve, supported by systems and structures that reinforce the focus on patient safety. Organizations that achieve high reliability (those which manage serious hazards extremely well) have long emphasized safety culture as a key factor necessary to performance that is consistently excellent. Despite widespread attention to the importance of safety culture in performance improvement, many – if not most – health care organizations struggle to achieve it. In fact, lack of safety culture was a prominent underlying factor of the issues addressed by the first four Center projects.
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