Mac’s Safety Space: Active safety culture

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

In this past week’s edition of Healthcare Facilities Today, I noticed a news item relating to the release of the annual Press Ganey Safety Culture Trends Report (which you can find here: and which you will be able to read after you have provided your work e-mail address—simple, no?).

While I know that this space tends to focus on safety as a function of the physical environment, it is clear that, in the absence of an embracing of a culture of safety throughout all levels of any organization, the folks who manage the physical environment would seem to be at something of a disadvantage.

I know that there is a fair prevalence of “safety huddles” throughout healthcare, but, anecdotally, I get the sense that the huddles aren’t quite as energizing/positive/focused as perhaps they might have been when they started. Certainly, the COVID-19 hangover has a lot to do with that, particularly as a reflection of energy levels, as well as the constant ebb and flow of the diaspora of healthcare professionals of all levels.

At any rate, while I encourage you to check out the data (the big picture is not particularly optimistic, but we tend to be a resilient lot—and somebody has to take care of all these people), there is some “light” at the department level (which may be somewhat of a function of “we’re all on this together”), but meaningful change always seems to take route in the front lines.

There is a sense of a decline in the perception of safety culture at the senior leadership level, including physicians— with Pride & Reputation being sore spots for those groups. But I like Press Ganey’s “3 Actions for Senior Leaders” to create and manage safety culture:

  • Committing to safety as a core value and leverage daily leader behaviors to reinforce safety
  • Leveraging ongoing pulse measurement of safety culture, and dive deeper into groups with lower safety perceptions to drive understanding
  • Ensuring robust analysis of safety events and near misses with transparent communication about safety issues and actions implemented to prevent harm

These are no small actions by any means. But (as they say of the longest journeys) single steps can accumulate over time—and take you to all sorts of places!

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at