This guide supports a conversation between managers about whether a staff member involved in a patient safety incident requires specific individual support or intervention to work safely. Action singling out an individual is rarely appropriate - most patient safety issues have deeper causes and require wider action.
The actions of staff involved in an incident should not automatically be examined using this just culture guide, but it can be useful if the investigation of an incident begins to suggest a concern about an individual action.
The guide highlights important principles that need to be considered before formal management action is directed at an individual staff member.
An important part of a just culture is being able to explain the approach that will be taken if an incident occurs. A just culture guide can be used by all parties to explain how they will respond to incidents, as a reference point for organisational HR and incident reporting policies, and as a communication tool to help staff, patients and families understand how the appropriate response to a member of staff involved in an incident can and should differ according to the circumstances in which an error was made. As well as protecting staff from unfair targeting, using the guide helps protect patients by removing the tendency to treat wider patient safety issues as individual issues.
• A just culture guide is not a replacement for an investigation of a patient safety incident. Only a full investigation can identify the underlying causes that need to be acted on to reduce the risk of future incidents.
• A just culture guide can be used at any point of an investigation, but the guide may need to be revisited as more information becomes available.
• A just culture guide does not replace HR advice and should be used in conjunction with organisational policy.
• The guide can only be used to take one action (or failure to act) through the guide at a time. If multiple actions are involved in an incident they must be considered separately.