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Whistleblowing over patient safety and care quality: a review of the literature

Blenkinsopp, John; Snowden, Nick; Mannion, Russell; Powell, Martin; Davies, Huw; Millar, Ross; McHale, Jean


John Blenkinsopp

Nick Snowden

Russell Mannion

Martin Powell

Huw Davies

Ross Millar

Jean McHale


The purpose of this paper is to review existing research on whistleblowing in healthcare in order to develop an evidence base for policy and research.

A narrative review, based on systematic literature protocols developed within the management field.

The authors identify valuable insights on the factors that influence healthcare whistleblowing, and how organizations respond, but also substantial gaps in the coverage of the literature, which is overly focused on nursing, has been largely carried out in the UK and Australia, and concentrates on the earlier stages of the whistleblowing process.

Research limitations/implications
The review identifies gaps in the literature on whistleblowing in healthcare, but also draws attention to an unhelpful lack of connection with the much larger mainstream literature on whistleblowing.

Practical implications
Despite the limitations to the existing literature important implications for practice can be identified, including enhancing employees’ sense of security and providing ethics training.

This paper provides a platform for future research on whistleblowing in healthcare, at a time when policymakers are increasingly aware of its role in ensuring patient safety and care quality.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 15, 2019
Journal Journal of Health Organization and Management
Print ISSN 1477-7266
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 6
Pages 737-756
APA6 Citation Blenkinsopp, J., Snowden, N., Mannion, R., Powell, M., Davies, H., Millar, R., & McHale, J. (2019). Whistleblowing over patient safety and care quality: a review of the literature. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 33(6), 737-756.
Keywords Health Policy; whistleblowing; raising concerns; speaking up; patient care; quality healthcare
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