The Role of Employee Whistleblowing and Raising Concerns in an Organizational Learning Culture – Elusive and Laudable?; Comment on “Cultures of Silence and Cultures of Voice: The Role of Whistleblowing in Healthcare Organisations”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

Workforce, Innovation & Improvement Research Group, School of Health Care Sciences, College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Abstract

It is inevitable that healthcare workers throughout their careers will witness actual or potential threats to patient safety in the course of their work. Some of these threats will result in serious harm occurring to others, whilst at other times such threats will result in minimal harm, or a ‘near miss’ where harm is avoided at the last minute. Despite organizations encouraging employees to ‘speak up’ about such threats, healthcare systems globally struggle to engage their staff to do so. Even when staff do raise concerns they are often ignored by those with a responsibility to listen and act. Learning how to create the conditions where employees continuously raise and respond to concerns is essential in creating a continuous and responsive learning culture that cherishes keeping patients and employees safe. Workplace culture is a real barrier to the creation of such a learning system but examples in healthcare exist from which we can learn.

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