PSOs: Implications for Healthcare Providers

June 1, 2009 | Health System Risk Management


One of the most groundbreaking federal initiatives in patient safety went into effect earlier this year. The final rule implementing the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) lays the groundwork for the first-ever national system for providers to voluntarily report medical errors, near misses, and other patient safety events to designated patient safety organizations (PSOs) while having assurance that the information will be protected from legal discovery and kept confidential. The rule became effective on January 19, 2009.

The rule seeks to accomplish two important goals for the healthcare sector, as follows:

According to results of a recent Healthcare Risk Control (HRC) survey, most respondents were unfamiliar with the benefits of working with a PSO. The majority of respondents (64%) stated that they have chosen not to work with a PSO at this time, and the remaining 36% stated that they are not familiar with PSOs.

This article describes the basic components of PSQIA and outlines some benefits, challenges, and tips for getting started for healthcare providers that are considering contracting with a PSO. More information on PSQIA and PSOs is available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at and from ECRI Institute at (see PSQIA and PSO Resources for a list of additional resources). In addition, a more in-depth review of PSQIA and best practices...

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