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Clin Nurs Res. 2014 Jun;23(3):296-313. doi: 10.1177/1054773812468755. Epub 2012 Dec 4.

It's always something: hospital nurses managing risk.

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  • 1University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the process by which hospital staff nurses keep patients safe within their hospital safety culture. Findings from this study culminated in a grounded theory of Managing Risk, the process by which nurses keep their patients safe from harm. Participants perceived that their patients were always at risk (it's always something), thus keeping patients safe was a continual, repetitive process of managing risk to prevent harm to patients. Stages of this process included risk assessment, risk recognition, prioritization, and protective interventions. Practicing nurses can use this theory to understand and articulate their critical role in keeping patients safe in hospitals. Further examination of this process is necessary for targeted assessment of a safety culture's impact on bedside nursing practice, thus providing a basis for specific interventions to improve patient safety.


grounded theory; hospitals; nursing; qualitative research; safety culture

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