Surveys on Patient Safety Culture

Patient safety culture refers to the beliefs, values, and norms shared by health care practitioners and other staff throughout the organization that influence their actions and behaviors. It can be measured by determining what is rewarded, supported, expected, and accepted in an organization as it relates to patient safety.

Through its Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS™) Program, AHRQ develops and maintains surveys, toolkits, and databases for hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centers; provides technical assistance and education; and promotes the use of the surveys for patient safety culture improvement.

Organizations can use these survey assessment tools to:

  • Raise staff awareness about patient safety.
  • Diagnose and assess the current status of patient safety culture.
  • Identify strengths and areas for patient safety culture improvement.
  • Examine trends in patient safety culture change over time.
  • Evaluate the cultural impact of patient safety initiatives and interventions.
  • Conduct  internal and external comparisons.

Surveys by Care Setting

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Hospital

The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture helps hospitals assess the culture of safety in their institutions. A comparative database on the survey allows hospitals to compare their safety culture with other hospitals who voluntarily submit their survey data.

Medical Office

The Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture asks outpatient medical office providers and staff for their opinions about the culture of patient safety and health care quality in their medical offices. The comparative database allows medical offices to compare their safety culture with other medical offices that voluntarily submit their survey data.

Nursing Home

The Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture asks nursing home providers and staff for their opinions about the culture of patient safety in their nursing home. The comparative database allows nursing homes to compare their results with other nursing homes that voluntarily submit their survey data.

Community Pharmacy

The Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture asks community pharmacy staff for their opinions about the culture of patient safety in their pharmacy. AHRQ created a central repository for survey data from community pharmacies that administer the AHRQ community pharmacy survey on patient safety and voluntarily submit their data to the database. The submitting pharmacies are not representative of all U.S. community pharmacies.

Ambulatory Surgery Center

The Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture asks ambulatory surgery center staff for their opinions about the culture of patient safety in their facility. The survey does not have a comparative database.

Research

The Surveys on Patient Safety Culture Research Reference List includes references on the use of the surveys, psychometric analyses, analyses linking the survey to outcome data, reviews of instruments, and international studies.

Tools

The Action Planning Tool for the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (PDF, 777 KB; Word, 112 KB) is intended for use after an organization administers the survey and analyzes the results. It provides step-by-step guidance to help survey users develop an action plan to improve patient safety culture.

The Improving Response Rates on the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture recording gives listeners tips and tools to increase an organization's survey response rates.

The Webinar on Using Just Culture to Improve Hospital SOPS Results from November 9, 2016, features Just Culture initiatives that helped improve scores on the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, particularly the Nonpunitive Response to Error composite. Topics discussed include strategies used to implement Just Culture in a health care system and how these led to improved results on the survey.

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