Background: Aim of this study, part of a European collaborative research project, was to evaluate the "patient safety culture" (PSC) in a primary care out of hours service in order to provide the management with a baseline for improvement interventions. Methods: Cross sectional study with the administration of the Safety Attitude Questionnaire Ambulatory Version (SAQ-AV) administered to all the 56 doctors working out of hours in the ULSS 20 Verona Local Health Trust in April/May 2015. For each item of the questionnaire the average score, standard deviation, non-applicability, percentage of agreement, percentage of disagreement were calculated. Results: Doctors working out of hours appreciate the type of work, feel mutual trust and provide support to each other but only 63.6% would feel safe if they would be a patient; little attention to the rules, protocols and evidence-based practices, poor diffusion of culture to learn from the mistakes of other operators and the difficulty of speaking about the mistakes made were detected. Despite the positive perception of the work provided by the group, the doctors seem to feel that the morale of the operators is not optimal and their overall satisfaction is poor. Workload seems to be perceived as a minor issue, differently from the perception of a lack of attention by the management towards the service, lack of support, feedback and recognition, and the lack of reference points for the operators, risk management procedures, recently graduate staff training, equipment provision, regularity and correctness of drug and prescription supply, lack of and loss of essential information to make decisions and lack of communication leading to dysfunction of care. Conclusions: The questionnaire provides decision-makers with useful information about the patient safety culture, identifying critical areas to address improvement efforts.
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