March 13, 2009 | | Comments 0
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Has your facility decided to join a Patient Safety Organization?

Though the Final Rule went into effect on January 19, 2009, many organizations are still researching the decision to join a Patient Safety Organization (PSO). PSOs have been almost four years in the making–they are a product of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 and anxiously awaited by many in the patient safety field. As of today there are 52 listed PSOs from which healthcare organizations can choose from, many of which are from specific states. If you’d like to find out more information about PSOs, visit the AHRQ Web site by visiting pso.ahrq.gov

The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the March issue of Briefings on Patient Safety on the topic of PSOs. Although a big attraction for hospitals to join PSOs is the added protection that data submitted to a PSO receive, the ultimate goal of PSOs is to increase the quality of patient care on a national scale

Most facilities are interested in joining a PSO not simply because they can now receive analysis on protected data. The underlying reason for joining a PSO is to keep patients safer.

“As information is shared, especially information on rare events that we see, when you start aggregating larger amounts of data, you really start seeing some contributing factors to those events, and that helps you figure out what needs to be fixed within a system to prevent them from happening,” says Amy Goldberg-Alberts, MBA, FASHRM, program director at the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization that has been involved with patient safety and event reporting for decades and has created its own PSO.

“The big benefit is to improve patient safety,” says Ronni Solomon, JD, executive vice president and general counsel of the ECRI Institute. “What the law and final regulations do is pave the way to get closer to that goal.” Although the regulations are mostly focused on reporting of data and incidents, the rule is really about understanding why incidents happen and how to change our systems to account for this understanding, Solomon says.

Additionally, PSOs can help facilities reduce the cost of learning by allowing individual facilities to take advantage of collective learning, says Rohde.

“For a small facility, the PSO allows them to combine their knowledge with other facilities’ knowledge and -really benefit from the collective learning of a much larger organization,” says Ken Rohde, consultant for The Greeley Company. The goal of any good reporting system is to fix a problem before is occurs. Any organization that has the opportunity to learn from another’s mistakes can benefit financially, he says.

Representatives for the Peminic-Greeley PSO and the ECRI Institute’s PSO say one of the biggest benefits to joining a PSO is not just data aggregation, but the PSO’s ability to provide solutions for identified trouble spots.

Rohde, who is part of the Peminic-Greeley PSO shared some comments with me about the topic. If you click the link below you’ll hear Ken describing the goal of PSOs, and also some of the benefits of data sharing which is a part of joining a PSO through the Network of Patient Safety Databases. To hear more of what Ken Rohde has to say about PSOs,

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Heather Comak About the Author: Heather Comak is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals and a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety. Contact Heather by e-mailing her at hcomak@hcpro.com.

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