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How relationships affect patient safety

Do your relationships with your co-workers affect your work life? Unless you work alone and have few work-related contacts with whom you interact, you likely answered “yes” to this question. In the medical community, co-worker relationships can affect not only worker morale and productivity, they also often affect patient safety.

A recent report regarding a Canadian initiative entitled the Interprofessional Model of Patient Care explores the link between co-worker relationships within the medical community and patient safety. This initiative was launched with the aim of improving interdisciplinary collaboration. Approximately one year after the initiative launched, healthcare professionals completed anonymous surveys in regards to the initiative. These surveys and an analysis of data from hospitals in which the IMPC is now a presence revealed compelling results.

According to the report’s authors, levels of both collaboration and respect significantly impact the climate of patient safety in hospital settings in positive ways. Similarly, conflict within relationships between medical professionals impact the climate of patient safety in hospital settings in negative ways.

Just as your professional relationships likely impact your ability to enjoy and perform your work to the best of your ability, so do the relationships between co-workers within the medical community. When the work-related task at hand is attending to the needs of patients, collaboration, respect and conflict all contribute to whether or not this task is performed to the best abilities of medical professionals. As a result, these relationships should become the subject of greater focus as the medical community continues to seek to improve patient safety.

Source: Medscape, “Achieving a Climate for Patient Safety by Focusing on Relationships,” Milisa Manojlovich, Mickey Kerr, Barbara Davies, Janet Squires, Ranjeeta Mallick and Ginette L. Rodger, April 2015

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