Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery

Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
doi: 10.15452/CEJNM.2021.12.0039
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 245
Mria Sovriov Sosov
Department of Nursing Care, Faculty of Medicine, Pavol Jozef afrik University in Koice, Slovakia
Received August 28, 2020; Accepted December 28, 2020. Copyright: This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-4.0 license.
Aim: To evaluate the associations between nurse burnout, the hospital patient safety climate, the patient safety grade, and
adverse events. Design: Cross-sectional. Methods: 117 nurses completed the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory and the Hospital
Survey on patient safety culture. Pearson correlation and linear regression analysis was conducted to assess associations
between variables. Results: Higher level of burnout significantly met with lower grade of patient safety, overall perception
of patient safety, higher frequency of adverse events recorded, and medication errors. The overall perception of safety was
positively related to teamwork within hospital units and non-punitive responses to error. The frequency of recorded events was
significantly negatively associated with hospital management support and supervisors activities, and positively with feedback.
Medication errors correlated positively with organizational learning and continuous safety improvement and negatively with
staffing. Significant relationships have been identified between management support, non-punitive responses to error,
teamwork within hospital units, and selected adverse events. Conclusion: Enhancement of the patient safety climate and
nurses mental health are important patient safety improvements in healthcare organisations.
Keywords: adverse events, burnout syndrome, hospital patient safety climate, nursing profession, quality of nursing care.
Burnout syndrome is a psychological syndrome that
emerges as a long-lasting response to chronic stress
in the workplace (Maslach & Leiter, 2016). This
syndrome is associated with many adverse
consequences, not only personal (anxiety, depression,
suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, insomnia)
(Salvagioni et al., 2017), but also negative work
consequences (reduced work performance,
absenteeism, job turnover) (Bakker et al., 2014;
Salvagioni et al., 2017) and in the profession
of nursing it leads to deteriorating healthcare quality
(increased number of adverse events and errors,
incomplete care, deteriorating patient safety) (Alves
& Guirardello, 2016; Hall et al., 2016; Liu et al.,
2018; Vifladt et al., 2016).
Patient safety is a key indicator of quality healthcare.
It is defined as preventing errors and harm to the
patient, as well as reducing the risk of side effects,
learning from errors, and building a safety culture
in the healthcare system that includes organizations,
professionals, and patients (Mitchell, 2008).
Corresponding author: Mria Sovriov Sosov, Department
of Nursing Care, Faculty of Medicine, Pavol Jozef afrik
University in Koice, Trieda SNP 1, Koice, Slovakia; email:
[email protected]
Creating patient safety culture is one of the strategies
for building patient safety in healthcare facilities. The
concept of safety culture and safety climate is not
clearly defined by scholars. These terms are defined
or used interchangeably in many publications.
(Guldenmund, 2000; Halligan & Zecevic, 2011;
Nielsen, 2014). Based on a review of theories and
research studies, Guldenmund (2000) differentiates
between these two concepts. He described safety
culture as part of an overall organizational culture
that develops over a long period of time and is
relatively stable over time. According to
Guldenmunds theoretical framework, three levels
of organizational safety culture can be studied.
The core aspects of safety culture are the internal
norms and values of individuals (which may or may
not relate to safety) that guide the behaviour of group
members and the entire organization. They are
mostly implicit, subconscious, relatively nonspecific, and difficult to measure. The next level,
involved in shaping the culture of patient safety in the
organization, consists of attitudes and beliefs that are
relatively explicit and conscious, and this level
includes objects (hardware, software, people, and
behaviour). An example of this level is the perception
of safety climate or behaviour (e.g., unfinished
/ missed care, records of adverse events, etc.). These
Sovriov Sosov, M. Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 246
factors are already measurable indicators of a safety
culture. At the third level, the culture of safety is
created by clearly visible and measurable external
factors (e.g., inspections, warnings, manuals,
regulations, rules, standards, use of safety, and
protective equipment) (Guldenmund, 2000). Based
on the work of the following authors (Guldenmund,
2000; Nielsen, 2014), safety climate can be defined
as the beliefs and attitudes of employees to the formal
and informal policies, practices, and activities of the
organization in relation to security. Safety climate is
considered easier to handle, so it can be seen as
a gateway to working with the organizations safety
culture. At the same time, it can be considered as
an alternative indicator of performance in the field
of safety culture (Guldenmund, 2000; Nielsen, 2014).
Promoting patient safety is one of the most important
goals and challenges for healthcare systems
worldwide (Liu et al., 2018). In the context of patient
safety improvement, the central strategy has become
to build safety systems aimed at open reporting
of adverse events, maximizing education of patient
safety, and creating patient safety culture (Aiken et
al., 2012, 2013; Kirwan et al., 2013; Mitchell et al.,
2016; Pokorn et al., 2016; World Health
Organization & World Alliance for Patient Safety,
2008). The system of reporting adverse events
in Slovakia was introduced in accordance with the
Recommendation 2009/C 151/01 on patient safety
(Council of the European Union, 2009). The medical
facility should have two systems. One voluntary
reporting system, in which employees record, report,
and analyse their own errors and mistakes, and
the other one, a mandatory reporting system in which
serious adverse events related to the provision
of healthcare are reported. Ensuring safe care is the
responsibility of all employees working in the field
of healthcare. According to a report of the Agency
for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S.
(2019), nurses play an important role in monitoring
patients, detecting deteriorations early, detecting
possible errors and side effects, performing myriad
tasks, and ensuring and maintaining continuous care
so that patients are provided with high-quality, safe
care. Nurses report adverse events and errors most
frequently and therefore play an important role
in increasing patient safety, improving the quality
of healthcare, and ensuring patient satisfaction
(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2019;
Aiken et al., 2012; Kirwan et al., 2013). Current
studies (Cho et al., 2015, 2016; Griffiths et al., 2019;
Liao et al., 2016; Liu et al., 2018) point to a close
association between patient safety and the
organizational factors of the nurses work
environment, in particular the quality of the working
environment, the hospital safety climate, adequate
staffing (number, education of nurses) or the length
of working time (Bae & Fabry, 2014). Poorer patient
safety is also associated with some procedural aspects
of nursing care, such as unfinished / missed nursing
care (Gurkov et al., 2020; Liu et al., 2018). Negative
associations have also been identified between
patient safety and adverse outcomes in nurses their
professional burnout, and lower job satisfaction and
well-being (Alves & Guirardello, 2016; Hall et al.,
2016; Liu et al., 2018; Vifladt et al., 2016). The
healthcare system in Slovakia, as in other countries,
struggles with a lack of registered nurses, due to job
dissatisfaction, increased migration (Gurkov et al.,
2013, 2020), and burnout (Pilrik & Tobkoov,
2013; Slezkov et al., 2015).
Monitoring the patient safety grade and patient safety
climate from nurses perspectives, as well as other
factors (job satisfaction, burnout syndrome), has been
shown to be vital for improving patient safety
(Gurkov et al., 2020; Kirwan et al., 2013). In the
conditions of the Slovak Republic, we recorded two
studies that dealt with patient safety and their
determining factors, namely the hospital patient
safety climate (Gurkov et al., 2020; Sovriov
Sosov et al., 2017) and unfinished / missed care
(Gurkov et al., 2020). However, we have not seen
studies that look at the relationships between patient
safety, adverse events, burnout of nurses, and the
hospital safety climate.
Due to a more comprehensive understanding
of patient safety mechanisms, we decided to assess
the associations between patient safety, adverse
events, the hospital patient safety climate, and nurse
burnout syndrome.
The study had a cross-sectional descriptive character.
The study was carried out from December 2017 until
June 2018. The main inclusion criteria for the study
were: age over 18 years, current work in the position
of nurse, and a willingness to cooperate. Employees
in the position of nurse assistant were not included
in the study group (in Slovakia, since 2018 this
position has been renamed as a practical nurse).
A set of questionnaires was issued to 180 nurses
in hospital facilities and to nurses students
of postgraduate specialized studies at the Faculty
of Medicine of the Pavol Jozef afrik University
Sovriov Sosov, M. Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 247
in Koice. In the analysis, 117 questionnaires were
included (response rate 65%).
The suitability of the sample size was tested by post
hoc Power analysis in G*Power 3.1 (Faul et al.,
2009). Post hoc Power analysis for linear regression
analysis (fixed model, R2
increasing) performed at
conventional mean effect size f
2 = 0.16, alpha
level = 0.05, for 117 respondents and for the total
number of tested predictors 11, reached a power
value of 81%, which is an acceptable level for
clinical research (i.e., the sample size is acceptable)
(Faul et al., 2009; Ptek & Raboch, 2010).
Data collection
A set of questionnaires aimed at assessing patient
safety, adverse events, hospital patient safety climate,
burnout syndrome, and selected socio-demographic
and professional characteristics was issued to nurses.
The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture
(HSPSC) (Gurkov et al., 2020; Rockville et al.,
2018; Sorra & Dyer, 2010) consists of 42 items that
are grouped into 12 domains evaluating the patients
safety climate. The study includes two other items.
One evaluates the patients safety grade (which we
recoded from 1 [failing] to 5 [excellent]) and the
other one the number of reported adverse events in
the last 12 months (1 [no reported events] up to 6
[21 or more reported events]). HSPSC allows to
evaluate these domains:
concerning the achieved results:
– overall perception of patient safety (4 items)
evaluates the use of safety procedures and
systems of the organization as a whole,
– the frequency of adverse event recording
(3 items) focuses on the reporting of three
types of adverse events according to their
safety risk in relation to patient harm on a scale
from never to always,
on the hospital level:
– hospital management support for patient safety
(3 items), which assesses the extent to which
patient safety is a priority of hospital
management, as well as the managements
approach to creating a work environment that
supports patient safety,
– teamwork across units (4 items) evaluates
the degree of cooperation and coordination
of work between departments in an effort to
ensure the best possible patient care,
– handoffs and transmissions (4 items) evaluates
whether important patient information is
transmitted between hospital units and at the
beginning and end of work shifts,
on unit level (ward unit):
– teamwork within units (4 items) evaluates
the cooperation and coordination of the work
of the members of the treatment unit team, and
their mutual support and respect,
– supervisor / managers expectations and
actions promoting patient safety (4 items)
monitors whether the manager is considering
employee proposals to improve patient safety,
does not overlook patient safety issues,
positively evaluates employees for adherence
to safe procedures,
– organizational learning continuous
improvement (3 items) focuses on whether
adverse events have led to the introduction
of positive changes, whether the effectiveness
of changes is evaluated,
– feedback and communication (3 items)
evaluates whether the staff is informed about
the occurrence of adverse events, whether they
are provided with feedback on the
implemented changes, and whether the
possibilities of error prevention are discussed,
– communication openness (3 items) assesses the
possibility of open expression for the staff on
areas that may have a negative impact on the
patient, and the possibility of free and open
communication with the superior on the topic,
– staffing (4 items) assesses the perception
of adequate staffing and working time in
relation to patient safety,
– non-punitive responses to error (3 items)
assesses the perception of the use of repressive
measures (inference of personal responsibility,
keeping errors in the personal file).
Items of these domains are scored on a 5-point Likert
scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree),
and respectively 1 (never) up to 5 (always). Scores in
individual domains can be calculated as the average
percentage of positive responses (4 [agree],
5 [strongly agree]) of individual items within the
domain or as the average of the sum of respondents
responses to individual items forming a given
domain. It ranges from 1 to 5, and a higher score
represents a higher safety culture. In this study, the
overall reliability of the instrument expressed by
a Cronbachs alpha value of 0.62 was questionable,
lower than the recommended value of 0.70.
The extent of burnout syndrome was assessed by the
Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) (Kristensen et
al., 2005). The questionnaire evaluates personal
burnout, work-related burnout, and client-related
burnout (patients). The items are scored on a Likert
scale from 100 (always / very high grade) to 0
(never / almost never / very low grade). The last item
in the work-related burnout domain must be recoded.
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2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 248
The scores of individual domains are obtained by
averaging the sum of their items. The higher the
score, the higher the burnout rate. According to the
CBI score, the burnout is divided into the following
quartiles: up to 25 (very low or low burnout), from 25
to 50 (low to medium burnout), from 50 to 75
(medium to high burnout), 75 and more (high to very
high burnout). The CBI is a valid and reliable tool for
burnout assessment. In this study, the overall
reliability of the instrument was satisfactory, with
Cronbachs alpha taking 0.81.
Indicators of unsafe care, and thus reduced quality
of care, are various adverse events (e.g., pressure
ulcers, falls, infections, and medication errors),
increased morbidity and mortality of patients (Cho et
al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2019). In this study, we
evaluated the incidence of seven adverse events:
pressure ulcers, uninjured falls, injured falls,
peripheral venous catheter infections / inflammations,
central venous catheter infections, permanent urinary
catheter infections, and medication errors. We
assessed the number of selected adverse events
reported over the last 12 months in categories ranging
from 1 (none) to 6 (21 and above).
Within the socio-demographic and professional
characteristics, we evaluated age, gender, education,
length of experience in the nursing profession, length
of experience in the hospital, length of experience in
the current department, shifts, number weekly
working hours, hospital units, and the types
of hospitals.
Data analysis
The results were processed in the statistical program
IBM SPSS, version 20.0, and in the MS Excel.
Descriptive analysis absolute (n) and percentage
(%), arithmetic mean (M), and standard deviation
( SD) values was used to describe sample, adverse
events, patient safety, hospital safety climate, and
patient safety. All HSPSC domains, patient safety,
number of reported events, and adverse events were
distributed symmetrically (skewness values were
below 1), except for CBI values (skewness = -1.42)
and the frequency of recorded central venous catheter
infections (2.44). Only variables with a data loss
of 5% or less were included in the inferential
statistics, which is considered a non-significant loss
(Dong & Peng, 2013). We used Pearson correlation
(r, as most variables were symmetrically distributed)
and linear regression analysis to test associations
between variables. Burnout and HSPSC domains
were tested by linear regression as predictors of the
patient safety grade, overall safety perception,
frequency of adverse events reported, and selected
adverse events. Collinearity between predictors was
excluded and values of variance inflation factor (VIF)
were less than 2.5 for all included predictors
(Johnston et al., 2018). The overall reliability of the
instruments was assessed by Cronbachs alpha.
The level of p 0.05 indicated statistically significant
relationships between variables.
The study sample consisted of 117 nurses with
an average age of 37.77 years. Most of the nurses
were female and more than half of the nurses had
completed university education. The average length
of nurse experience was 15 years, and most nurses
worked in 12-hour-shifts, from 40 to 59 hours per
week. The overall characteristics of the sample are
given in Table 1.
Table 1 Sample characteristics
Variable Values
Age mean ( SD) 37.77 (8.84)
Sex n (%)
male 2 (1.7)
female 115 (98.3)
Education n (%)
secondary medical school 18 (15.4)
higher secondary medical school 25 (21.4)
university baccalaureate degree 54 (46.2)
university master and higher degree 20 (17.1)
Length of experience in nursing
profession mean ( SD)
15.08 (9.6)
Length of experience in hospital
mean ( SD)
11.79 (9.00)
Length of experience on actual hospital
unit mean ( SD)
10.36 (8.80)
Shifts n (%)
only morning shift 17 (14.5)
12-hours shifts 95 (81.2)
8-hours shifts 5 (4.3)
Weekly working hours n (%)
less than 20 hours 2 (1.7)
2039 hours 22 (18.8)
4059 hours 93 (79.5)
60 and more
Hospital units n (%)
medical 42 (35.9)
surgical 36 (30.8)
intensive care 39 (33.3)
Type of hospital according to owner
private 82 (70.1)
public 35 (29.9)
Type of hospital according to
general 88 (75.2)
teaching / university 15 (12.8)
specialised 14 (12.0)
SD standard deviation
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2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 249
In this study, we recorded a mean burnout syndrome
score (rated by CBI) of 56.86 ( 12.62) (minimum
score 15.87, maximum 83.13), indicating a medium
to high burnout rate. Average values of patient safety
grade and hospital safety climate are shown
in Table 2. Values of the number of reported adverse
events are shown in Table 3. The worst hospital
climate safety score was recorded in the domain
of staffing, non-punitive responses, and teamwork
across units.
Table 2 Patient safety and hospital patient safety climate
Hospital patient safety climate (HSPSCa
) % positive mean (SD)
Outcome variables
patient safety grade (higher score = higher grade)
overall patient safety perception
frequency events reported
Hospital level
management support for patient safety
teamwork across units
handoffs and transition
Unit level
teamwork within units
supervisor / managers expectations, actions promoting patient safety
organisational learning continuous improvement
feedback and communication about error
communication openness
non-punitive response to error

3.22 (0.63)
3.28 (0.61)
3.12 (0.67)
3.15 (0.67)
2.97 (0.52)
3.00 (0.57)
3.46 (0.61)
3.17 (0.61)
3.39 (0.60)
3.31 (0.61)
3.01 (0.61)
2.84 (0.52)
2.96 (0.56)
aHSPSC Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture; SD standard deviation
Table 3 Adverse events reported by nurses for the last 12 months
Number of reported
events HSPSCa
n (%)
Pressure ulcers
n (%)
n (%)
Falls with injury
n (%)
Peripheral venous
catheter infections
n (%)
Central venous
catheter infections
n (%)
Urinary catheter
n (%)
Medication errors
n (%)
Any 28 (23.9) 23 (19.7) 36 (30.8) 55 (47.0) 20 (17.1) 87 (74.4) 45 (38.5) 44 (37.6)
12 28 (23.9) 37 (31.6) 39 (33.3) 34 (29.1) 44 (37.6) 18 (15.4) 42 (35.9) 31 (26.5)
35 33 (28.2) 24 (20.5) 35 (29.9) 24 (20.5) 35 (29.9) 4 (3.4) 18 (15.4) 27 (23.1)
610 21 (17.9) 20 (17.1) 2 (1.7) 1 (0.9) 11 (9.4) 3 (2.6) 6 (5.1) 11 (9.4)
1120 3 (2.6) 6 (5.1) 2 (1.7) 1 (0.9) 1 (0.9)
21 and more 2 (1.7) 1 (0.9) 1 (0.9)
aHSPSC Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture adverse events reported by nurses for the last 12 months
Table 4 shows the associations between the variables.
The burnout of nurses increased with the weekly
working hours and with the negative perception
of the hospital safety climate. The degree of patient
safety and the overall perception of patient safety
were positively correlated with most HSPSC
domains, but negatively correlated with the rate
of nurse burnout and the weekly working hours.
The number of recorded adverse events was
positively correlated with the length of experience,
the nurses burnout, and the number of weekly
working hours, with feedback on patient safety.
However, negative associations were identified
in relation to management support at the unit and
hospital level. The number of medication-related
errors increased with the number of weekly working
hours, the burnout rate, and the worse perception
of safety climate in selected HSPSC domains.
The results of the linear regression analysis are
shown in Table 5. The patient safety grade was
significantly negatively associated with nurse
burnout, not with the HSPSC domains (the F change
test was not significant). The overall perception
of patient safety was significantly negatively
associated with nurse burnout and positively with the
HSPSC domains teamwork across units and nonpunitive responses. The frequency of adverse events
reported was associated with a higher burnout,
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2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 250
Table 4 Correlation analysis between patient safety, adverse events, burnout, safety climate, and selected sample characteristics
Patient safety grade
Overall patient safety
Number of adverse events
Frequency of adverse
events reported
Medica-tion errors
Pressure ulcers
Falls without injury
Falls with injury
Peripheral venous catheter
Central venous catheter
Urinary catheter infections
Age 0.040 -0.013 -0.165 0.093 0.063 0.032 0.062 0.085 0.065 -0.200* -0.231* -0.130
Length of experience 0.094 -0.082 -0.155 0.073 0.014 -0.012 0.032 0.050 0.031 -0.237* -0.190* -0.114
Hospital length experience 0.011 -0.047 -0.215* 0.150 0.156 -0.003 0.146 0.027 0.149 -0.131 -0.161 -0.044
Unit length experience 0.110 -0.178 -0.289** 0.263** 0.162 0.089 0.127 0.064 0.155 -0.108 -0.201* -0.035
Weekly working hours 0.394*** -0.283** -0.178 0.346*** 0.143 0.309*** 0.101 0.168 0.134 0.150 -0.222* -0.035
Burnout – -0.412*** -0.303*** 0.280** 0.160 0.416*** 0.168 0.060 0.018 0.076 -0.025 0.113
Management support -0.200* 0.300*** 0.342*** -0.321*** -0.143 0.022 -0.028 -0.151 -0.298 0.060 0.124 -0.181
Teamwork across units -0,337*** 0.267*** 0.355*** 0.023 -0.129 -0.229* -0.069 0.003 0.039 -0.179 -0.098 0.016
Handoffs and transition -0.571*** 0.454*** 0.401*** -0.218* -0.165 -0.333*** -0.072 -0.209* 0.011 -0,023 0.011 -0.190*
Teamwork within units -0.238** 0.150 0.185* -0.116 -0.087 -0.049 -0.143 0.156 -0.163 0.075 0.043 -0.074
Supervisor / managers
expectations, patient safety
-0.430*** 0.291** 0.306*** -0.368*** 0.091 -0.239* -0.055 -0.069 -0.075 0.129 -0.073 -0.103
Organisational learning
continuous improvement -0.093 0.126 0.263** -0.017 -0.206* 0.320*** 0.059 -0.165 -0.125 -0.018 0.149 -0.000
Feedback 0.023 0.043 0.010 0.217* 0.056 -0.015 0.155 0.129 0.225* 0.238* -0.027 0.014
Communication openness -0.118 0.044 0.191* 0.060 -0.163 0.042 0.053 -0.033 0.075 0.007 -0.006 0.010
Staffing -0.279** 0.198* 0.174 -0.070 -0.148 -0.277** -0.109 0.046 0.145 0.027 0.017 -0.087
Non-punitive response to error -0.280** -0.028 0.220* -0.073 0.155 -0.084 0.010 0.018 -0.224* -0.286** -0.081 -0.150
aHSPSC Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture adverse events reported by nurses for the last 12 months; *p 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001
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2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 251
Table 5 Linear regression analysis on patient safety and adverse events
Patient safety grade
Overall patient safety
Number of adverse
events reported HSPSCa
Frequency of adverse
events reported HSPSCa
Medication errors
Pressure ulcers
Falls without injury
Falls with injury
Peripheral venous
catheter infections
Central venous catheter
Urinary catheter
st model
burnout -0.412*** -0.303*** 0.280** 0.16 0.416*** 0.168 0.060 0.018 0.076 -0.025 0.113
F test 23.32*** 11.67*** 9.47** 2.93 23.47*** 3.18 0.41 0.04 0.63 0.07 1.41
adjusted R2 0.163 0.084 0.070 0.017 0.166 0.019 -0.005 -0.009 -0.003 -0.008 0.004
nd model
burnout -0.230 0.090 0.123 0.167 0.223*** 0.127 0.025 -0.048 -0.009 -0.180 -0.043
management support 0.123 0.142 -0.223* -0.14 0.149 0.060 -0.189 -0.326** -0.005 0.180 -0.154
teamwork across units 0.063 0.231* 0.106 0.001 -0.123 -0.054 0.101 -0.015 -0.244* -0.172 0.089
handoffs and transition 0.217 0.175 -0.025 -0.057 -0.172 0.030 -0.232 0.077 -0.011 -0.022 -0.187
teamwork within units -0.004 0.036 -0.04 0.005 -0.015 -0.185 0.260* -0.118 0.063 -0.043 0.089
supervisor / managers expectations,
patient safety promotion
0.066 0.172 -0.292** 0.274* -0.149 -0.047 0.053 -0.021 0.146 -0.186 -0.011
organisational learning continuous
0.035 0.128 0.01 0.174 0.383** 0.070 -0.178 -0.079 -0.001 0.163 0.058
feedback -0.013 -0.110 0.262** 0.111 -0.030 0.199 0.117 0.227* 0.190 -0.024 -0.005
communication openness -0.042 0.070 0.082 -0.169 0.065 0.019 -0.023 0.088 -0.006 0.006 0.036
staffing 0.041 0.095 -0.037 -0.06 -0.192* -0.063 0.056 0.168 0.040 -0.025 -0.048
non-punitive response to error -0.093 0.199* 0.021 0.052 -0.055 0.090 0.045 -0.194* -0.279** -0.144 -0.163
F change 1.57 3.92*** 2.98** 1.58 3.88*** 0.73 1.96* 3.45*** 2.32* 1.00 0.83
F test 3.65*** 4.89*** 3.73*** 1.71 6.21*** 0.94 1.82 3.14*** 2.17* 0.92 0.88
adjusted R2 0.202 0.270 0.211 0.06 0.337 -0.006 0.074 0.172 0.104 -0.008 -0.012
aHSPSC Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture adverse events reported by nurses for the last 12 months; Note: standardized regression coefficients Beta are displayed; *p 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001
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2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 252
negatively with management at the hospital and unit
level, and positively with feedback related to patient
safety. The number of recorded medication errors
increased with the level of nurse burnout, with
negative perception in the domain of staffing, and
positively associated with the domain of
organizational learning and continuous safety
improvement. Recorded falls with injury and
peripheral venous catheter infections were negatively
associated with non-punitive responses, teamwork
across units, and management support on the hospital
level, and positively associated with feedback and
communication about error.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the associations
between patient safety, adverse events, the hospital
patient safety climate, and nurse burnout syndrome.
In our sample of nurses, we recorded a medium to
high burnout level with the CBI. This is also pointed
out by other studies (Slezkov et al., 2015; Pilrik
& Tobkoov, 2013), which also identified
a medium to high burnout rate in 5090% of cases
of nurses in Slovakia (using the Maslach Burnout
Inventory questionnaire). The issue of the shortage
of nurses on the labor market, their excessive
workload, and burnout has a chronic character
in Slovakia. In our sample, the burnout rate of the
nurses increased with the number of weekly working
hours and the negative safety climate in the
With a higher rate of burnout, the number of reported
adverse events, especially medication errors,
increased, and the patient safety grade and overall
patient safety perceived by nurses decreased.
A strong association between nurse burnout and the
hospital patient safety climate has also been reported
in recent studies (Liu et al., 2018; Hall et al., 2016;
Vifladt et al., 2016; Zarei et al., 2016), indicating the
need to improve the nurses work environment. For
healthcare organizations, it would be appropriate to
focus on creating a work environment that promotes
personal well-being and job satisfaction, thus
preventing burnout, which would in turn lead to the
provision of safe services (Wang et al., 2014).
Adequate staffing of the nurse job position,
monitoring nurses burnout, work demands, and
resources in the work environment also seem to be
appropriate in our case. Their recording could be part
of systems monitoring patient safety (local and
national), which would allow a more comprehensive
analysis of burnout predictors and the subsequent
selection of effective measures to eliminate it.
In our study, less than half of the nurses rated overall
patient safety positively. More than three-quarters
of nurses reported more than one adverse event in the
past year, and only about one-third of nurses were
positive about the frequency of adverse events
reporting. Many nurses considered communication to
be insufficient and less open, and felt afraid of having
personal consequences when reporting an adverse
event. Most nurses considered staffing to be
undersized in relation to patient safety. At the
hospital level, cooperation between units and transfer
of information were evaluated negatively too.
Compared to other countries, the percentage
of positive responses in the HSPSC domains was
similar to that in Poland and Croatia, but lower than
the results achieved in Slovakia and the Czech
Republic in a study by Gurkov et al. (2020).
National adverse event recording systems could
explain the perception of a patient safety climate
e.g., a national patient safety system is not mandatory
in Poland and Croatia, partially regulated in Slovakia,
and anonymous in the Czech Republic, where it has
been mandatory since 2018 (Gurkov et al., 2020).
The percentage of positive answers in the domain
of non-blaming atmosphere and staffing was
similarly low in earlier studies conducted in Slovakia
(Sovriov Sosov et al., 2017) and abroad (Bodur
& Filiz, 2010; Okuyama et al., 2018; Wang et al.,
2014). In other domains, we observed worse results
compared to recent scientific studies and metaanalysis (Bodur & Filiz, 2010; Gurkov et al., 2020;
Okuyama et al., 2018; Vifladt et al., 2016; Wagner et
al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014). We explain the
different results in the HSPSC domains of our study
in comparison with previous studies by a slightly
different composition of our sample in some
parameters, but especially by differences not only
in national but also in local, institutional patient
safety systems.
Staffing and non-punitive responses were the worst
rated patient safety domains in our sample. These
domains are usually the worst evaluated in other
research studies, as pointed out by Okuyama et al.
(2018) in a systematic review study and metaanalysis. This is a serious and widespread problem
in healthcare systems around the world. Inadequate
staffing, a higher proportion of patients per nurse,
often lead to an increase in the nurses workload,
increased job dissatisfaction, professional burnout
of nurses with negative consequences for the quality
of healthcare and patient safety in the form of higher
incidence of adverse events, and higher morbidity
and mortality of patients (Aiken et al., 2012; Cho et
al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2019; Hall et al., 2016;
Zarei et al., 2016). Sufficient staff, with adequate
Sovriov Sosov, M. Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 253
knowledge, skills, and a value system focused
on quality and safety of care, seems to be a key
strategy for ensuring patient quality and safety
(Griffiths et al., 2019). A non-blaming and nonpunitive climate was also evaluated negatively by the
nurses of our sample in relation to patient safety.
Most nurses did not report a problem with recording
adverse events. The problem is the fear that mistakes
will be used against them to punish them, and
therefore they prefer silence to reporting events
(Wang et al., 2014). Negatively evaluated domains
in relation to adverse events in this study, and thus
potential areas for improvement, were teamwork
across units, and management support at the hospital
and unit level. These domains were usually
negatively evaluated in other research studies and
meta-analysis (Cho et al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2019;
Gurkov et al., 2020; Okuyama et al., 2018; Wang et
al., 2014). Positively perceived patient safety climate
regarding organizational learning and continuous
improvement, feedback and communication, and
teamwork across the unit were strengths of patient
safety in this study. These results were consistent
with the findings of other scientific studies and metaanalysis (Gurkov et al., 2020; Okuyama et al., 2018;
Wang et al., 2014).
In our study, it was confirmed that burnout syndrome
and selected safety climate domains are related to the
perception of the patient safety grade, medication
errors, and other adverse events. As the correlation or
regression analysis suggests, the results point
in particular to a decreasing safety grade
in connection with an increase of nurses burnout and
an increasing number of weekly working hours.
Likewise, the overall patient safety decreased with
the increasing rate of burnout syndrome. However,
the overall patient safety perception was positively
associated with cooperation across ward units and
a non-blame climate. The frequency of reporting
various types of errors and adverse events was
positively related to the supervisors support and his
expectations in relation to safety. The number
of reported adverse events increased with the rate
of burnout, positively related to the provision
of feedback and communication in relation to patient
safety. We can therefore say that a low burnout rate
and a positively perceived safety climate are
significantly associated with achieving better patient
safety results, which needs to be further promoted.
As part of the regression analysis, we also reached
paradoxical results, where we confirmed a negative
relationship between the numbers of reported adverse
events in the last 12 months and the hospital
management and supervisors support that is, the
more support the nurses felt, the fewer mistakes they
reported. This phenomenon evokes the idea that
hospital management and direct superiors support the
concealment and non-reporting of errors and adverse
events. The Institute for Economic and Social
Reforms (INEKO) draws attention to the possibility
of concealing errors and adverse events, specifically
concealing acquired hospital infections in Slovakia
(The Institute for Economic and Social Reforms
[INEKO], 2014). According to the Analysis of the
Epidemiological Situation and Activities of
Epidemiology Departments in the Slovak Republic
of the Regional Office of Public Health in Bansk
Bystrica (Regional Office Public Health in Bansk
Bystrica, 2012), it was stated that 0.54%
of nosocomial infections out of the number
of hospitalized patients were registered in the Slovak
Republic in 2012; according to the European Centre
for Disease Prevention and Control, the average
prevalence of nosocomial infections in developed
European countries was 5.7% (Suetens et al., 2013).
In 2014, INEKO launched a portal of hospitals,
where the occurrence of acquired hospital infections
was also monitored. The available data showed that
in the Slovak Republic from 20092013, the average
incidence of acquired hospital infections was 2.2%.
Much more surprising and alarming was that
approximately thirty hospitals reported a 0%
incidence of hospital-required infections during
the study period (INEKO, 2014). It follows from
the above that little attention is paid to patient safety
in Slovakia. Reserves in this area are not only at the
level of hospitals, but also at the level of government
authorities. Behind the problem may be not only
concerns about repressive measures, inferring
criminal liability, but also the resistance
of employees themselves and the lack of support
from management for an honest and truthful record
of adverse events. In view of the above, it is
important both to play a more active role in the
government and to change the philosophy and policy
of the hospitals themselves, whose priority should be
patient safety.
Results of this study as well as previous research and
meta-analysis (Cho et al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2019;
Gurkov et al., 2020; Hall et al., 2016; Kuosmanen et
al., 2019; Liu et al., 2018; Okuyama et al., 2018;
Wang et al., 2014; Zarei et al., 2016) demonstrate
the need to implement comprehensive strategies to
ensure quality and safe care. An important strategy
for creating a safe working environment and safe care
is the development of management supporting
quality, safety, education, and continuous
improvement at all levels of the hospital (Gurkov et
al., 2020; Kuosmanen et al., 2019). Another strategy
Sovriov Sosov, M. Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 254
is to strengthen monitoring systems enabling
comprehensive data analysis with the subsequent
implementation of effective strategies to enhance the
safety and quality of care (Gurkov et al., 2020;
Kuosmanen et al., 2019; Pokorn et al., 2016).
Monitoring systems should evaluate not only patient
outcomes (adverse events, morbidity, mortality), but
also outcomes related to staff (e.g., job satisfaction,
well-being, burnout), work environment (patient
safety climate) and other structural ones (e.g.,
number of staff, staff training, number of patients
admitted and discharged, number of weekly working
hours), and procedural aspects (e.g., unfinished
/ missed nursing care) of healthcare. It would be
appropriate for monitoring systems to be not only
mandatory but also anonymous (Gurkov et al., 2020;
Pokorn et al., 2016), because the fear of accusation
can gradually lead to the closure of employees,
a change in their intrinsic values, and consequently
a loss of the need to improve patient safety. The aim
of the safety system should not be to immediately
impose penalties and sanctions, but to apply effective
preventive measures. This system could develop and
provide each hospital with a safety culture profile,
thus specifically guiding the strategic planning
of interventions to improve patient safety. Some
interventions would focus on patient safety
improving at the ward unit level; others would
require a hospital-wide policy change. Education
aimed at increasing patient safety is considered to be
an effective strategy for building a safety culture.
As such, it should not only be the subject
of interventions at the local hospital level. From
a strategic point of view, the topic of safety culture
in a comprehensive form should be part of the
curriculum in the undergraduate and postgraduate
education of nurses and other healthcare
professionals so that students future healthcare
professionals build positive work habits and
attitudes in relation to patient safety and quality
of healthcare.
This study helped to elucidate the relationship
between nurse burnout, patient safety, and the patient
safety climate. The cross-sectional descriptive design
of the study limits the clarification of causal
relationships between variables. The selection and
size of the sample, the number and type of hospitals
involved in the study, limit the generalizability of the
results and may cause a slight skew in the data.
The limitation of this study may be the lower overall
reliability of the instrument in this study (Cronbachs
alpha = 0.62). A systematic review study carried out
by Waterson et al. (2019) pointed to lower reliability
of the HSPSC too. When evaluating the reliability
of HSPSC domains, Cronbachs alpha was lower
than 0.70 in 46.16% of cases. We encounter similar
results in the review study of Pokojov and Brtlov
(2018). They pointed to very low (0.36) to excellent
(0.91) values of the Cronbachs alpha of individual
domains of the mentioned instrument. The lower
values of the Cronbachs alpha of individual domains
could be explained by low number of items (34) that
make up domains. The lower score of the overall
reliability of instrument could be explained by its
heterogeneity, as it consists of up to 12 domains
(Tavakol & Dennick, 2011).
In our study, the burnout of nurses, inadequate
staffing, a non-blame climate, and the support
of management were the weak point of patient safety.
Organizational learning and continuous
improvement, feedback, and communication were
in positive association, especially with the recording
of the number of adverse events. It seems that
optimizing the workplace safety climate can
contribute to promoting mental health and preventing
burnout in employees, and consequently to having
better patient safety outcomes. The results of this
study indicate the need to have adequate staffing, to
prevent burnout syndrome, to build a national system
aimed at comprehensively improving patient safety,
and to integrate the issue of patient safety culture into
education in healthcare study programs.
Ethical aspects and conflict of interest
This study was carried out in accordance with
the 1964 Helsinki Declaration, revised in 2013.
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee
of the Faculty of Medicine of the Pavol Jozef afrik
University in Koice, decision no. 3N/2018 and
by the ethics committees or hospital managements
that agreed with the research. Nurses were informed
in advance in writing about the intentions of the study
and about the fact that their participation in the
research is voluntary, anonymous, does not involve
any risks and may be cancelled without any reason.
Respondents were assured that all data obtained
would be anonymous and confidential. We obtained
a signed informed consent from the respondents.
The author declares that there is no conflict
of interest.
This research received no specific grant from any
funding agency, commercial or .
Sovriov Sosov, M. Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 2021;12(1):245256
2021 Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 255
I would like to express gratitude to Bc. Diana
Trnokov for her help in collecting data and other
administrative support, as well as all the nurses who
took the time and were willing to participate in this
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