Optimal governance of patient safety: A qualitative study on barriers to and facilitators for effective internal audit

Saskia C. van Gelderen, Gijs Hesselink, Gert P. Westert, Paul B. Robben, Wilma Boeijen, Marieke Zegers, Hub Wollersheim


Objective: While internal audits are widely used, insight into the essential components of the internal audit to govern patient safety is limited. The aim of this study is to explore factors that hinder and stimulate internal audits as an effective patient safety governance tool for hospital boards.
Methods: A qualitative interview study in six Dutch hospitals. Interviews (n = 43) were held with auditees, quality officers, boards of directors and boards of supervisors. Data were collected and analysed using Grounded Theory.
Results: Barriers and facilitators were classified into 14 categories from which four themes emerged: (1) board positioning of audits, (2) organisation and content of audits, (3) competences and composition of audit team, and (4) cultural factors and attitudes towards auditing.
Conclusions: We found two themes consisting of factors related to the audit itself (organisation and content of audits, and competences and composition of audit team) and two themes consisting of contextual factors (board positioning of audits, and cultural factors and attitudes towards auditing). These may contribute to support for auditing and to the generation of reliable audit results, which subsequently could result in effective audits for governance of patient safety. Hospital boards and executives can optimise the patient safety auditing system in their hospitals by increasing active leadership engagement, by promoting audits as an opportunity for staff to learn from safety problems (rather than a mandatory examination instrument) and by providing vital resources for a smooth audit process, such as a medical specialist in the audit team.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jha.v6n3p15


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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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