The positive deviance approach seeks to identify and learn from those who demonstrate exceptional performance. This study from Baxter et al. sought to explore how multidisciplinary teams deliver exceptionally safe care on medical wards for older people.
Based on identifiable qualitative differences between the positively deviant and comparison wards, 14 characteristics were hypothesised to facilitate exceptionally safe care on medical wards for older people. This paper explores five positively deviant characteristics that healthcare professionals considered to be most salient. These included the relational aspects of teamworking, specifically regarding staff knowing one another and working together in truly integrated multidisciplinary teams. The cultural and social context of positively deviant wards was perceived to influence the way in which practical tools (eg, safety briefings and bedside boards) were implemented.
This study exemplifies that there are no ‘silver bullets’ to achieving exceptionally safe patient care on medical wards for older people. Healthcare leaders should encourage truly integrated multidisciplinary ward teams where staff know each other well and work as a team. Focusing on these underpinning characteristics may facilitate exceptional performances across a broad range of safety outcomes.
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