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Physician engagement in organisational patient safety through the implementation of a Medical Safety Huddle initiative: a qualitative study


Background Efforts to increase physician engagement in quality and safety are most often approached from an organisational or administrative perspective. Given hospital-based physicians’ strong professional identification, physician-led strategies may offer a novel strategic approach to enhancing physician engagement. It remains unclear what role medical leadership can play in leading programmes to enhance physician engagement. In this study, we explore physicians’ experience of participating in a Medical Safety Huddle initiative and how participation influences engagement with organisational quality and safety efforts.

Methods We conducted a qualitative study of the Medical Safety Huddle initiative implemented across six sites. The initiative consisted of short, physician focused and led, weekly meetings aimed at reviewing, anticipating and addressing patient safety issues. We conducted 29 semistructured interviews with leaders and participants. We applied an interpretive thematic analysis to the data using self-determination theory as an analytic lens.

Results The results of the thematic analysis are organised in two themes, (1) relatedness and meaningfulness, and (2) progress and autonomy, representing two forms of intrinsic motivation for engagement that we found were leveraged through participation in the initiative. First, participation enabled a sense of community and a ‘safe space’ in which professionally relevant safety issues are discussed. Second, participation in the initiative created a growing sense of ability to have input in one’s work environment. However, limited collaboration with other professional groups around patient safety and the ability to consistently address reported concerns highlights the need for leadership and organisational support for physician engagement.

Conclusion The Medical Safety Huddle initiative supports physician engagement in quality and safety through intrinsic motivation. However, the huddles’ implementation must align with the organisation’s multipronged patient safety agenda to support multidisciplinary collaborative quality and safety efforts and leaders must ensure mechanisms to consistently address reported safety concerns for sustained physician engagement.

  • Patient safety
  • Qualitative research
  • Hospital medicine

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