Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Merger Could Diminish the Agency’s Effectiveness

March 14, 2012 | Risk Management News

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Governor Tom Corbett's proposal to merge the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority with the state’s Department of Health could significantly diminish the Authority’s effectiveness, posits a March 6, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. The article, which was written by ECRI Institute’s President and CEO Jeffery C. Lerner, Ph.D., enumerates many of the Authority’s successes in the realm of patient safety, including reducing wrong-site surgeries, persuading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change its labeling requirements for hydromorphone, and reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections. Because the Department of Health’s function is largely regulatory, Lerner questions whether the agency will be able to effectively serve the new role of education while serving its existing role of enforcement. He notes that former-Governor Mark Schweiker and the state legislature originally made the Patient Safety Authority independent from the Department of Health so it could carry out a nonpunitive, learning-based reporting program that would encourage hospitals to share information on "near-miss" events.

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