Jeremy Hunt has compared the Mid Staffs scandal to Chernobyl and the Bhopal gas disaster in an interview with ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener.
The Health Secretary said the accidents - both of which killed thousands and left many more injured - were "turning points" for their industries.
He said he hoped Mid Staffs would mark a similar change in the NHS.
Asked if similar negligence extended across the system, Mr Hunt said front-line staff have warned that "Mid Staffs wasn't just something that happened in one hospital".
NHS patients are best protected when wards have the right number of staff working, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has warned.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of midwives, initially praised Jeremy Hunt's plans to make the NHS safer, but raised concerns over low staff numbers and lack of protection for whistleblowers.
The Mid-Staffs scandal, in which appalling conditions lead to hundreds of patients dying prematurely, should be "a turning point" in NHS culture, Jeremy Hunt has said.
In a speech at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, the Health Secretary outlined plans to create a "more open, compassionate and transparent culture" in the health service.
The point at which hospitals have to tell a patient they have been harmed will be reviewed by the Government as part of an updated "duty of candour" for the NHS, the Health Secretary has announced.
Speaking at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, Jeremy Hunt outlined plans to revise the legal threshold at which hospitals have to inform patients and suggested those at the lower end of the scale would not be told.
The Government caused outrage last November when it said the duty of candour should mean patients and families are only told of harm if it results in death or severe disability.
However, in his speech, Mr Hunt outlined plans aimed at reducing the £1.3 billion the NHS annually spends on litigation and saving 6,000 lives over the next three years.
He said NHS organisations will be invited to "sign up to safety" and set out publicly their ambitious plans for reducing avoidable harm, such as medication errors, blood clots and bed sores.
The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will be sentenced today after pleading guilty to safety breaches over the death of a diabetic patient.
Gillian Astbury, 66, died at Stafford Hospital in 2007 after two nurses failed to give her insulin.
She had been admitted in April 2007 for treatment for fractures to her arm and pelvis.
The inquest found low staffing levels and a systemic failure to provide adequate nursing facilities were both contributory factors.
Health campaigner, Julie Bailey, has told a parliamentary committee that people who have suffered wrongdoing should not have to fight so hard to get a public inquiry.
She gave evidence at Westminster earlier to a committee looking into the rules surrounding the setting-up of inquiries. Julie Bailey lost her mother, Bella, in the Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal and went on to set-up the campaign group, Cure the NHS.
Special administrators at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust have been granted 40 more days to decide on future funding arrangements for health services in the area.
A report published in July found the trust to be clinically and financially unsustainable.
Healthcare bosses have been given an additional 40 days to reach an agreement on the funding of essential services at two Staffordshire hospitals.
Administrators were appointed by health watchdog Monitor earlier this year to look at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals, after a draft report found the trust to be clinically and financially unsustainable.
The findings proposed that the trust be dissolved and some essential services moved to hospitals in neighbouring areas, while also recommending that the A&E department be retained.
However, an agreement is still to be reached on how to pay for the services and interested parties have now been given an extended period to finalise a deal.
Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: "We need to find an answer to the question of who will be providing what funding to secure the future of essential patient services in Mid Staffordshire."
"We are giving extra time for the interested parties to reach agreement over the next few weeks, in order to ensure that patients continue to get the services they need and the taxpayer gets value for money."
Ron Street, a friend of Gillian Astbury's, has said: "Today’s acknowledgement of guilt by the Trust does little by way of justice against those individuals who permitted such unsafe practices for so long".
"Senior members of the [Mid Staffordshire NHS] Trust Board, who were responsible for implementing this system of unsafe work at the hospital whilst Gillian was in their care, have never been held to account"
The Health and Safety Executive has said "Her [Gillian Astbury's] death was entirely preventable. She did not get the insulin she needed to control her diabetes."