Document (#29336)

Author
Maclntosh-Murray, A.
Choo, C.W.
Title
Information behavior in the context of improving patient safety
Source
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 56(2005) no.12, S.1332-1345
Year
2005
Abstract
Although it is assumed that information about patient safety and adverse events will be used for improvement and organizational learning, we know little about how this actually happens in patient care settings. This study examines how organizational and professional practices and beliefs related to patient safety influence (1) how health care providers and managers make sense of patient safety risks and adverse events, and (2) the flow and use of information for making improvements. The research is based an an ethnographic case study of a medical unit in a large tertiary care hospital in Canada. The study found that front-line staff are task driven, coping with heavy workloads that limit their attention to and recognition of potential information needs and knowledge gaps. However, a surrogate in an informationrelated role-an "information/change agent"-may intervene successfully with staff and engage in preventive maintenance and repair of routines. The article discusses four key functions of the information/change agent (i.e., boundary spanner, information seeker, knowledge translator, and change champion) in the context of situated practice and learning. All four functions are important for facilitating changes to practice, routines, and the work environment to improve patient safety.

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