Presentation Blocks: 03-22-2018 - Thursday - 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Title: Assessing Patient Safety Culture at the Dental Office


Enihomo Obadan-Udoh, University Of California, San Francisco
Nutan Hebballi, UTHealth
Alfa-Ibrahim Yansane, University Of California, San Francisco
Oluwabunmi Tokede, Harvard University
Jini Etolue, Harvard University
Casey Easterday, Health partners
Dianne Eggen, Health partners
Joel White, University Of California, San Francisco
Elsbeth Kalenderian, University Of California San Francisco
Muhammad Walji (Presenter)


Objectives: Cultivating a robust patient safety culture is foundational to minimizing patient harm, but little is known about how dental teams perceive patient safety or safety culture within their practices. An understanding of the safety culture within an organization empowers it to undergo a pro-active cultural shift that will reduce the risk of adverse events. The goal of this study was to benchmark the patient safety culture and identify areas for improvement at US dental institutions.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using the extensively validated Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture (MOSOPS) questionnaire developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This instrument was adapted for dental office use in an earlier study. The four participating dental institutions include: University of California San Francisco, University of Texas, Houston, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and HealthPartners. Ten safety culture dimensions were assessed: Overall Perceptions of Patient Safety and Quality, Organizational Learning, Teamwork, Staff Training, Work Pressure & Pace, Leadership Support for Patient Safety, Office Processes and Standardization, Error Communication, Communication Openness, Patient-Care Tracking/Follow-up.

Results: 656 participants (dentists, dental/hygiene students and clinical/administrative staff) responded to our survey invitations across all sites (Overall response rate: 40.6%). ‘Organizational learning’ received the highest positive score (85%); while ‘Work pressure & pace’ received the lowest score (49%). Compared to medical institutions nationwide, these four dental institutions scored below the 10th percentile for ‘Patient-care Tracking/Follow-up’, and scored significantly lower on every safety culture dimension except ‘organizational learning’. In 2012, a similar study by the research team at the academic sites revealed low positive scores for ‘Leadership support for patient safety’ and ‘Patient-care Tracking/Follow-up (36%).

Conclusions: While patient safety in dentistry has garnered attention in recent years, significant deficits still exist in the perceptions of quality and safety for key aspects of care delivery among dental providers and staff.