Background: Speaking up with concerns in the interest of patient safety has been identified as important for the quality and safety of patient care. The study objectives were to identify how anaesthesia care providers speak up, how their colleagues react to it, whether there is an association among speak up form and reaction, and how this reaction is associated with further speak up.
Methods: Data were collected over 3 months at a single centre in Switzerland by observing 49 anaesthesia care providers while performing induction of general anaesthesia in 53 anaesthesia teams. Speaking up and reactions to speaking up were measured by event-based behaviour coding.
Results: Instances of speaking up were classified as opinion (59.6%), oblique hint (37.2%), inquiry (30.7%), and observation (16.7%). Most speak up occurred as a combination of different forms. Reactions to speak up included short approval (36.5%), elaboration (35.9%), no verbal reaction (26.3%), or rejection (1.28%). Speaking up was implemented in 89.1% of cases. Inquiry was associated with an increased likelihood of recipients discussing the respective issue (odds ratio [OR]=13.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.9-31.5; P<0.0001) and with a decreased likelihood of implementing the speak up during the same induction (OR=0.27; 95% CI, 0.08-0.88; P=0.03). Reacting with elaboration to the first speak up was associated with decreased further speak up during the same induction (relative risk [RR]=0.42; 95% CI, 0.21-0.83; P=0.018).
Conclusion: Our study provides insights into the form and function of speaking up in clinical environments and points to a perceived dilemma of speaking up via questions.
Keywords: assertiveness; group processes; interaction; patient safety; responding; speaking up.