Culture of Safety

Patient safety is a critical component of health care quality. As Southwest Health System continually strives to improve, we recognize the importance of establishing a culture of safety. Achieving a culture of safety requires an understanding of the values, beliefs, and norms that are important in our organization and what attitudes and behaviors related to patient safety are expected and appropriate.


The Agency for Health Research and Quality has a tool that helps us assess the culture at Southwest Health System. This survey is conducted every two years, with results reported back to all employees. Using this tool helps us compare our results to those of over 1,000 other hospitals in the United States. We use these results 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

Safety Culture Definition - The safety culture of an organization is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization's health and safety management. Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.


Source: Organising for Safety: Third Report of the ACSNI (Advisory Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations) Study Group on Human Factors. Health and Safety Commission (of Great Britain). Sudbury, England: HSE Books, 1993.

Below are the overall results from the last survey, completed in September 2011.