A Safety-II Perspective on Organisational Learning in Healthcare Organisations; Comment on “False Dawns and New Horizons in Patient Safety Research and Practice”

Document Type : Commentary


Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK


In their recent editorial Mannion and Braithwaite provide an insightful critique of traditional patient safety improvement efforts, and offer a powerful alternative vision based on Safety-II thinking that has the potential to radically transform the way we approach patient safety. In this commentary, I explore how the Safety-II perspective points to new directions for organisational learning in healthcare organisations. Current approaches to organisational learning adopted by healthcare organisations have had limited success in improving patient safety. I argue that these approaches learn about the wrong things, and in the wrong way. I conclude that organisational learning in healthcare organisations should provide deeper understanding of the adaptations healthcare workers make in their everyday clinical work, and that learning and improvement approaches should be more democratic by promoting participation and ownership among a broader range of stakeholders as well as patients.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 28 November 2017
  • Revise Date: 12 February 2018
  • Accept Date: 12 February 2018
  • First Publish Date: 01 July 2018