Culture of Safety

2016 Culture of Safety


What is a “culture of safety”?

Core values and behaviors resulting from a collective and sustained commitment by organizational leadership, managers and health care workers to emphasize safety over competing goals. 

Why this topic? Why now?

It has been 15 years since the Institute of Medicine (IOM) shocked the nation and issued the clarion call for a safer health care system in its landmark reports To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System and Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Nurses have been instrumental in the gains made in improving the quality and safety of U.S. health care over the last decade and a half. However, recent studies suggest U.S. patients experience a far greater number of adverse events each year than even suggested by the IOM.

While patient safety is undoubtedly important, so, too, is that of the health care provider. ANA, as the premier organization for all registered nurses, has a long-standing commitment to ensuring the health and wellness of nurses in all settings. That is why ANA supports the emerging emphasis on the “quadruple aim” that adds the goal of improving the work life of health care providers to the often cited tri-part aim of better care, better health, at reduced cost.

Clearly, much work needs to be done and nurses — the largest health profession — are in a unique position to lead positive change in the nation’s health care system. Patients and communities, as well as the nursing profession at large, all stand to gain from efforts to foster a culture of safety in health care.

What are key components of a culture of safety?

Though a broad concept that comprises myriad traits and characteristics, a culture of safety from the perspective of
the registered nurse includes (but is not limited to):

  • Using quality measurement to improve patient outcomes
  • Taking action to make positive safety changes for patients
  • Linking individual, team and organizational safety
  • Implementing technology to improve safety
  • Ensuring safe levels of nurse staffing and skill mix
  • Establishing zero tolerance for workplace violence, incivility and bullying
  • Fostering ethical practice environments 


Monthly Topical Focus:




What is a culture of safety?


Healthy Nurse


Fatigue and Shift Work


Mental Health


National Nurses Week: Cultural Congruence


IOM Scholar Topic: Childhood Bullying Membership Assembly


Emerging Infections


Leadership: Leading from the Middle


Transitions of Care


Data and Systems Thinking


Hospice and Palliative Care


What you can expect from ANA:

Downloadable toolkit, which will include:


How can you take part?

Please share the educational opportunities and toolkit information with your members. If you have initiatives that match up with the theme or would like to discuss doing joint initiatives, let us know!