Table 2

Traits of a Just Culture

Positive traits (Just Culture)Negative traits (Blame Culture)
Professional atmosphereOpen, trusting, supportive.Fear, cautiousness, ‘club culture’.
Attitude to mistakesAcceptance that mistakes will be made, systems in place to guard against human error.Shame, embarrassment.
Attitude to reporting mistakesTolerance of human error, staff encouraged or rewarded to report mistakes.Expectation of infallibility.
Focus of investigationsOrganisational factors, improvement.Individual culpability.
Support provided during investigationStaff believe they will be supported by seniors.
Staff expect to be viewed as a professional who behaved with no malicious intent.
Staff do not believe they will be supported by seniors.
Staff expect to be viewed with suspicion and have their capability questioned.
Outcomes of investigationIdentify contributing factors.
Organisational factors will be addressed and communicated.
May be recommendations for further training.
Individual innocence or guilt.
No consideration or communication of organisational factors.
Treatment of blameRecognises that majority of human errors will be mistakes and blame is not appropriate.
Recognises unacceptable behaviour such as deliberate action and gross negligence.
Blame culture—blame is prevalent and individual culpability will be suspected until evidence suggests otherwise.
No-blame culture does not recognise and address unacceptable behaviour.