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Most frameworks involving a “culture of safety” place patients at the center of the care delivery model (Sammer & James, 2011). In view of health policy, Ostrom (2007) stated that frameworks are meant to organize inquiry through identification of elements and potential relationship, but not intended to specifically test, explain, or predict behavioral outcomes or strengths of association as theory would test. In the healthcare setting patients occupy the center prominence of our safety efforts; however, we offer that care providers play an equally important role in optimizing patient safety and caregivers hold a position of equivalent actors in such frameworks. Furthermore, extrinsic factors such as government agencies are at times excluded in these discussions and some frameworks are structurally complex making it difficult for end users to retain, remember, and apply concepts consistently in practice.
Although a culture of safety is serious business (Denham, 2007a), it does not have to be implemented with a grim face. Joy and spirit of caregiving is also linked to patient safety. Joy comes from witnessing successful patient outcomes, and seeing the patient and family experiences of their healing journey (Hinz, 2011). Leape (2013) offers that joy and meaning will be created when the care providers feel valued, safe from harm, and being part of the solutions for change.
How then do we approach a complex system framework, such as patient safety, with a program that is meaningful, sustainable, and consistently recognizable, if not marketable, to the bedside caregivers? We have found that correlation of thoughts plays a significant role in retention and recognition of information for our multicultural staff. Gigerenzer (2007) posited that the strength of recognition surpasses that of simple recall in humans. When recall memory is impaired, recognition memory often remains (Gigerenzer, 2007, p. 111).
One way to strengthen recognition and information recall is through the use of mnemonics (Bakken & Simpson, 2011). Mnemonics encode complex information in which unfamiliar information to be learned is linked with known information, pictures, or symbols (Bakken & Simpson, 2011). Visual cues and auditory reminders enhance meaningfulness of new information and promote overall strength of association between novel learning and known or familiar patterns (Mastropieri, 1988).