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Patient Safety Culture Survey

An image of a portion of a diagonally-positioned survey. There are four check-boxes: strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. There is a bright green checkmark in the 'agree' box.The Department of Defense (DOD) Patient Safety Culture Survey is designed to assess staff perceptions of patient safety culture at their military medical treatment facility (MTF). It is fielded in the Military Health System (MHS) Direct Care system approximately every three years, most recently in 2019 and coming again in 2022. The survey is sponsored by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) in collaboration with the Services and DHA Markets.

All staff members, clinical and non-clinical, working in MHS hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, and dental facilities are urged to participate in the anonymous, web-based survey.

The goals of administering the culture survey in the MHS are to raise awareness about patient safety issues and provide data at the MTF- and MHS-wide levels to:

  • Assess and analyze the current state of patient safety culture.
  • Identify actionable areas of strength and opportunities for improvement in patient safety culture.
  • Examine trends in patient safety culture change over time.
  • Provide comparisons across work areas, staff positions, and facilities.
  • Foster a safer patient care environment, a healthier work atmosphere, and staff well-being across all MHS settings.
  • Assist facilities to meet The Joint Commission accreditation standards and to establish safe practices assessed by Leapfrog surveys.

The culture survey was adapted from the nationally-recognized Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS®) developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ). New for the 2022 DOD Patient Safety Culture Survey, all staff working in ambulatory clinics will take the AHRQ SOPS® Medical Office Survey and all staff working in a hospital setting will take the newly released version 2.0 of the AHRQ SOPS® Hospital Survey. The surveys, which measure safety culture across numerous patient safety dimensions including organizational learning, teamwork, reporting of PS events, staffing/work pressures, staff well-being, communication, and leadership support, are evidence-based and have been implemented by hundreds of hospitals nationally and internationally. For more information on the AHRQ survey and associated resources, go to the AHRQ website.

In 2019, items were added to the DOD Patient Safety Culture Survey to assess staff burnout and underlying cause factors. These items were expanded for the 2022 survey.

The culture survey results are used to help drive MHS-wide improvement initiatives, as well as give the Services/Markets and MTFs the information to target more local efforts.

To partner with Services/Markets and MTFs across the MHS, the DOD Patient Safety Program has developed a number of resources designed to help facilities’ leadership and patient safety champions understand their culture survey results and learn actionable ways to improve patient safety culture at the MTF level. More specifically, these resources can help to:

  • Lt. Hillary Brainard, and Capt. Edwin Turner, Emergency Room Department Head discuss a patient’s condition with Sailors attached to Expeditionary Medical Force One during Operation Northern Lights.Understand response rate at the MTF/local level.
  • Understand response rates at the MTF/local level.
  • Identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
  • Display and share data.
  • Understand results within the context of each MTF.
  • Develop an Action Plan to improve patient safety culture and staff well-being.

Please go to the Patient Safety Learning Center to access the Culture Survey resources available to MHS facilities.

If you have questions about the culture survey or how the DOD PSP can assist you in next steps, please e-mail us.

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