Nurse managers who give verbal expectations about safety protocols or who offer constructive responses to admitted errors have lower overall error rates in their facilities, a Belgian study has found.

To study the connection between the behavioral integrity of nurse managers and the level of comfort staff nurses feel when admitting to medical errors, researchers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium surveyed 54 nursing teams in four hospitals.

Participants were asked to rank their level of agreement with statements such as, “If you make a mistake in this team, it is often held against you,” and, “In order to get the work done, one must ignore some safety aspects.”

The investigators observed that when a nurse manager’s spoken safety expectations are in line with how they respond to reported errors, a reduction in patient treatment errors made by other nurses follows.

“This benefits patients because work environments in which error is identified offer employees the opportunity to learn from those and, ultimately, prevent similar errors from occurring,” investigator Deirdre McCaughey, Ph.D., told