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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 Military Health System Patient Safety Culture Survey is designed to assess staff perceptions of patient safety at their military treatment facility MTF. It is fielded in the MHS Direct CareDirect care refers to military hospitals and clinics, also known as “military treatment facilities” and “MTFs.”Direct Care system approximately every three years, most recently in 2016 and coming again in 2019. The survey is sponsored by the Defense Health Agency in collaboration with the services and National Capital Region Medical Directorate.

Staff from across the organization, including inpatient facilities, outpatient facilities and dental clinics, are invited to participate in the anonymous, web-based survey.

The purpose of administering the culture survey in the MHS is to:

  • Raise awareness about patient safety issues across the organization.
  • Diagnose and assess the current state of patient safety culture in all MHS facilities.
  • Identify strengths and areas for patient safety culture improvement.
  • Examine trends in patient safety culture change over time.
  • Provide actionable data for fostering a safer patient care environment in all MHS settings.

The culture survey was adapted from the nationally-recognized Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, or AHRQ. The survey, which measures safety culture across 12 patient safety dimensions, is evidence-based and has been implemented by hundreds of hospitals across the United States and overseas. For more information on the AHRQ survey and associated resources, go to the AHRQ website. The survey results are used to help drive MHS-wide improvement initiatives, as well as give the services and MTFs the information to target more local efforts.

To partner with services 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 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.
  • Identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
  • Display and share data.
  • Understand results within the context of each MTF.
  • Develop an Action Plan.


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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Memo from Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), encouraging participation in the Patient Safety Culture Survey.

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