Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2014 User Comparative Database Report

Chapter 6. Comparing Your Results

This chapter presents information on how to compare your results with the results from the database. To compare your hospital's survey results with the results from the database, you will need to calculate your hospital's percent positive response on the survey's 42 items and 12 composites, as well as the percentage of staff giving each patient safety grade (e.g., Excellent, Very Good) and percentage of staff reporting each number of events (e.g., 3 to 5, 6 to 10). Refer to the Notes section at the end of this report for a description of how to calculate percent positive scores. You will then be able to compare your hospital's results with the database averages and examine the percentile scores to place your hospital's results relative to the distribution of database hospitals.

When comparing your hospital's results with results from the database, keep in mind that the database provides only relative comparisons. Even though your hospital's survey results may be better than the database statistics, you may still believe there is room for improvement in a particular area within your hospital in an absolute sense. As you will notice from the database results, there are some patient safety composites that even the highest scoring hospitals could improve on. Therefore, the comparative data provided in this report should be used to supplement your hospital's own efforts toward identifying areas of strength and areas on which to focus patient safety culture improvement efforts.

Highlights

  • There was considerable variability in the range of hospital scores (lowest to highest) across:
    • The 12 patient safety culture composites.
    • Patient safety grade.  In at least one hospital, 31 percent of the respondents provided their unit with a patient safety grade of "Excellent," or "Very Good," yet at another hospital 100 percent provided their unit with a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good".
    • Number of events reported. In at least one hospital, 10 percent of respondents reported at least one event over the past 12 months, yet at another hospital 100 percent of respondents reported at least one event.

Description of Comparative Statistics

This section provides a brief description of the results shown in the remainder of this chapter.

Average Percent Positive

The average percent positive scores for each of the 12 patient safety culture composites and for the survey's 42 items (plus the two questions on patient safety grade and number of events reported) are provided in the comparative results tables in this chapter. These average percent positive scores were calculated by averaging composite-level percent positive scores across all hospitals in the database, as well as averaging item-level percent positive scores across hospitals. Since the percent positive is displayed as an overall average, scores from each hospital are weighted equally in their contribution to the calculation of the average.ix

Standard Deviation

The standard deviation (s.d.), a measure of the spread or variability of hospital scores around the average, is also displayed. The standard deviation tells you the extent to which hospitals' scores differ from the average:

  • If scores from all hospitals were exactly the same, then the average would represent all their scores perfectly and the standard deviation would be zero.
  • If scores from all hospitals were very close to the average, then the standard deviation would be small and close to zero.
  • If scores from many hospitals were very different from the average, then the standard deviation would be a large number.

When the distribution of hospital scores follows a normal bell-shaped curve (where most of the scores fall in the middle of the distribution, with fewer scores at the lower and higher ends of the distribution), the average, plus or minus the standard deviation, will include about 68 percent of all hospital scores. For example, if an average percent positive score across the database hospitals were 70 percent with a standard deviation of 10 percent and scores were normally distributed, then about 68 percent of all the database hospitals would have scores between 60 and 80 percent.

Statistically "significant" differences between scores. You may be interested in determining the statistical significance of differences between your scores and the averages in the database, or between scores in various breakout categories (hospital bed size, teaching status, etc.). Statistical significance is greatly influenced by sample size, so as the number of observations in comparison groups gets larger, small differences in scores will be statistically significant. While a 1 percent difference between percent positive scores might be "statistically" significant (that is, not due to chance), the difference is not likely to be meaningful or "practically" significant.

Keep in mind that statistically significant differences are not always important, and nonsignificant differences are not always trivial. Therefore, we recommend the following guideline:

  • Use a 5 percentage point difference as a rule of thumb when comparing your hospital's results with the database averages. Your hospital's percent positive score should be at least 5 percentage points greater than the database average to be considered "better" and should be at least 5 percentage points less to be considered "lower" than the database average. A 5 percentage point difference is likely to be statistically significant for most hospitals given the number of responses per hospital and is also a meaningful difference to consider.

Minimum and Maximum Scores

The minimum (lowest) and maximum (highest) percent positive scores are presented for each composite and item. These scores provide information about the range of percent positive scores obtained by database hospitals and are actual scores from the lowest and highest scoring hospitals. When comparing with the minimum and maximum scores, keep in mind that these scores may represent hospitals that are extreme outliers (indicated by large differences between the minimum score and the 10th percentile score, or between the 90th percentile score and the maximum score).

Percentiles

The 10th, 25th, 50th (or median), 75th, and 90th percentile scores are displayed for the survey composites and items. Percentiles provide information about the distribution of hospital scores. To calculate percentile scores, all hospital percent positive scores were ranked in order from low to high. A specific percentile score shows the percentage of hospitals that scored at or below a particular score. For example, the 50th percentile, or median, is the percent positive score where 50 percent of the hospitals scored the same or lower and 50 percent of the hospitals scored higher. When the distribution of hospital scores follows a normal bell-shaped curve (where most of the scores fall in the middle of the distribution, with fewer scores at the lower and higher ends of the distribution), the 50th percentile, or median, will be very similar to the average score. Interpret the percentile scores as shown in Table 6-1

To compare with the database percentiles, compare your hospital's percent positive scores with the percentile scores for each composite and item. Look for the highest percentile where your hospital's score is higher than that percentile.

For example: On survey item 1 in Table 6-2, the 75th percentile score is 49 percent positive, and the 90th percentile score is 62 percent positive.

  • If your hospital's score is 55 percent positive, it falls above the 75th percentile (but below the 90th), meaning that your hospital scored higher than at least 75 percent of the hospitals in the database.
  • If your hospital's score is 65 percent positive, it falls above the 90th percentile, meaning your hospital scored higher than at least 90 percent of the hospitals in the database.

Composite and Item-Level Comparative Tables

Table 6-3 presents comparative statistics (average percent positive and standard deviation, minimum and maximum scores, and percentiles) for each of the 12 patient safety culture composites. The patient safety culture composites are shown in order from the highest average percent positive response to the lowest.

Table 6-4 presents comparative statistics for each of the 42 survey items. The survey items are grouped by the patient safety culture composite they are intended to measure. Within each composite, the items are presented in the order in which they appear in the survey.

Patient safety grades of "Excellent" or "Very Good," shown in Table 6-5, had a wide range of response, from at least one hospital where few of the respondents (31 percent) provided their unit with a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" to a hospital where 100 percent did.

Percentage of respondents who reported one or more events also had a wide range of response, as shown in Table 6-6, from at least one hospital where only 10 percent of respondents reported at least one event over the past 12 months to a hospital where 100 percent of respondents reported at least one event.

Table 6-5 describes the percentile distribution across hospitals for respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent," or "Very Good." Table 6-6 shows the percentile distribution across hospitals for staff who reported one or more events in the past 12 months.

Appendixes A and B: Overall Results by Hospital and Respondent Characteristics

In addition to the overall results on the database hospitals presented, Part II of the report presents data tables showing average percent positive scores on the survey composites and items across database hospitals, broken down by the following hospital and respondent characteristics:

Appendix A: Results by Hospital Characteristics

  • Bed size.
  • Teaching status.
  • Ownership and control.
  • Geographic region.

Appendix B: Results by Respondent Characteristics

  • Work area/unit.
  • Staff position.
  • Interaction with patients.
  • Tenure in current work area/unit.

The breakout tables are included as appendixes because there are a large number of them. Highlights of the findings from the breakout tables in these appendixes are provided below..

Highlights from Appendix A: Overall Results by Hospital Characteristics

Bed Size (Tables A-1, A-3)

  • The smallest hospitals (6-24 beds) had the highest percent positive average across all composites (69 percent); larger hospitals (400 beds or more) had the lowest (61 percent positive).
  • Smaller hospitals (6-24 beds) had the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (81 percent); larger hospitals (400 beds or more) had the lowest (71 percent).

Teaching Status and Ownership and Control (Tables A-5, A-8)

  • Nonteaching hospitals on average scored higher than teaching hospitals by 5 percentage points or more on 6 of the 12 composites.
  • Non–government-owned hospitals had a higher percentage of respondents who reported one or more events in the past year (45 percent) than government-owned hospitals (37 percent).

Geographic Region (Tables A-9, A-11, A-12)

  • East South Central hospitals had the highest average percent positive response across all composites (68 percent positive); New England hospitals had the lowest (60 percent positive).
  • East South Central and West North Central hospitals had the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (80 percent); New England hospitals had the lowest (70 percent).
  • West North Central hospitals had the highest percentage of respondents who reported one or more events in the past year (47 percent); the lowest percentage of respondents reporting one or more events was in the West South Central region (40 percent).

Highlights from Appendix B: Overall Results by Respondent Characteristics

Work Area/Unit (Tables B-1, B-3, B-4)

  • Respondents in Rehabilitation had the highest average percent positive response across the composites (70 percent positive); Emergency had the lowest (59 percent positive).
  • Rehabilitation had the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (86 percent); Emergency had the lowest (65 percent).
  • ICU (Any Type) had the highest percentage of respondents reporting one or more events in the past year (61 percent); Rehabilitation had the lowest (38 percent).

Staff Position (Tables B-5, B-7, B-8)

  • Respondents in Administration/Management had the highest average percent positive response across the composites (75 percent positive); Pharmacists had the lowest (62 percent positive).
  • Administration/Management had the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (87 percent); registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or licensed practical nurse and Pharmacists had the lowest (71 percent).
  • Pharmacists had the highest percentage of respondents reporting one or more events in the past year (73 percent); Unit Assistants/Clerks/Secretaries had the lowest (14 percent).

Interaction with Patients (Tables B-9, B-11, B-12)

  • Respondents with direct patient interaction were more positive than those without direct interaction on Handoffs and Transitions (49 percent positive compared with 42 percent positive) but less positive on Management Support for Patient Safety (71 percent positive compared with 77 percent positive).
  • Respondents without direct patient interaction had a higher percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (81 percent) than respondents with direct patient interaction (75 percent).
  • More respondents with direct patient interaction reported one or more events in the past year (48 percent) than respondents without direct patient interaction (29 percent).

Tenure in Current Work Area/Unit (Tables B-13, B-15, B-16)

  • Respondents with less than a year in their current work area/unit had the highest average percent positive response across the composites (68 percent positive); respondents with 1 to 10 years had the lowest (63 percent positive).
  • Respondents with less than a year in their current work area/unit had the highest percentage of respondents who gave their work area/unit a patient safety grade of "Excellent" or "Very Good" (82 percent); respondents with 1 to 5 years had the lowest (74 percent).
  • Respondents with 6 to 10 years in their current work area/unit had the highest percentage reporting one or more events in the past year (47 percent); respondents with less than a year had the lowest (30 percent).

ix. As described in the Notes section, an alternative method would be to report a straight percentage of positive response across all respondents. However, this method would give greater weight to respondents from larger hospitals (i.e., 300 beds or more) since they account for 53 percent of responses.


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Page last reviewed March 2014
Internet Citation: Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2014 User Comparative Database Report: Chapter 6. Comparing Your Results. March 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patientsafetyculture/hospital/2014/hosp14ch6.html