Does lean management improve patient safety culture? An extensive evaluation of safety culture in a radiotherapy institute

Pascale A. M. Simons*, Ruud Houben, Annemie Vlayen, Johan Hellings, Madelon Pijls-Johannesma, Wim Marneffe, Dominique Vandijck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Web of Science)


Purpose: The importance of a safety culture to maximize safety is no longer questioned. However, achieving sustainable culture improvements are less evident. Evidence is growing for a multifaceted approach, where multiple safety interventions are combined. Lean management is such an integral approach to improve safety, quality and efficiency and therefore, could be expected to improve the safety culture. This paper presents the effects of lean management activities on the patient safety culture in a radiotherapy institute. Methods: Patient safety culture was evaluated over a three year period using triangulation of methodologies. Two surveys were distributed three times, workshops were performed twice, data from an incident reporting system (IRS) was monitored and results were explored using structured interviews with professionals. Averages, chi-square, logistical and multi-level regression were used for analysis. Results: The workshops showed no changes in safety culture, whereas the surveys showed improvements on six out of twelve dimensions of safety climate. The intention to report incidents not reaching patient-level decreased in accordance with the decreasing number of reports in the IRS. However, the intention to take action in order to prevent future incidents improved (factorial survey presented beta:1.19 with p: 0.01). Conclusions: Due to increased problem solving and improvements in equipment, the number of incidents decreased. Although the intention to report incidents not reaching patient-level decreased, employees experienced sustained safety awareness and an increased intention to structurally improve. The patient safety culture improved due to the lean activities combined with an organizational restructure, and actual patient safety outcomes might have improved as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Patient safety culture
  • Lean management
  • Interviews
  • Incident reporting
  • Culture change

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