Identifying Safety Practices Perceived as Low Value: An Exploratory Survey of Healthcare Staff in the United Kingdom and Australia

Publication Name

Journal of Patient Safety


Objectives Up to 30% of healthcare spending is considered unnecessary and represents systematic waste. While much attention has been given to low-value clinical tests and treatments, much less has focused on identifying low-value safety practices in healthcare settings. With increasing recognition of the problem of "safety clutter"in organizations, it is important to consider deimplementing safety practices that do not benefit patients, to create the time needed to deliver effective, person-centered, and safe care. This study surveyed healthcare staff to identify safety practices perceived to be of low value. Methods Purposive and snowball sampling was used. Data collection was conducted from April 2018 to November 2019 (United Kingdom) and May 2020 to November 2020 (Australia). Participants completed the survey online or in hard copy to identify practices they perceived to not contribute to safe care. Responses were analyzed using content and thematic analysis. Results A total of 1394 responses from 1041 participants were analyzed. Six hundred sixty-three responses were collected from 526 UK participants and 515 Australian participants contributed 731 responses. Frequently identified categories of practices identified included "paperwork,""duplication,"and "intentional rounding."Five cross-cutting themes (e.g., covering ourselves) offered an underpinning rationale for why staff perceived the practices to be of low value. Conclusions Staff identified safety practices that they perceived to be low value. In healthcare systems under strain, removing existing low-value practices should be a priority. Careful evaluation of these identified safety practices is required to determine whether they are appropriate for deimplementation and, if not, to explore how to better support healthcare workers to perform them.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

National Institute for Health and Care Research



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