Objective This purpose of this case study was to assess how a medicine/surgery unit patients and nursing staff in the southeast United States perceived patient safety in comparison with US federal patient safety goals. Method Researchers verbally administered 3 rating scales (0‐10) and 21 open-ended questions to 45 patients. Their responses were recorded verbatim and inductively analysed. Ten unit RNs filled out a survey with 18 open-ended questions with 1 rating scale (0-10). Results Using a 10-point scale, patients rated the average degree of control over their care as 7.29 and facility safety as 8.74 while nurses rated their degree of control as 6.6 and facility safety at 7.2. 80% of patients but only 20% of nurses described their response time to call lights in a specific number of minutes with 20% of patients reporting a wait time of greater than 30 minutes. Patient themes included medical errors, concerns about not being heard, lack of knowledge regarding safety, and passivity. Nursing staff themes included reporting errors, call light response, and expectations for patient participation. Conclusions This exploratory study supports previous research and depicts how hospital patients and nurses perceive care and safety differently. Of importance, patients possess little understanding of hospital safety creating a paradox of patient dependency.
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