Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The creation of Patient SafetyOrganizations (PSOs), called for by theInstitute of Medicine, will help improvethe quality and safety of health care forall Americans. PSOs are private entitiesrecognized by Health and HumanServices Secretary Michael O. Leavitt.

The organizations would allow for thevoluntary reporting of patient safetyevents without fear of new tort liability.Furthermore, they would encourage cliniciansand health care organizations tovoluntarily share data on patient safetyevents more freely and consistently.Under the proposal, PSOs can collect,aggregate, and analyze data and providefeedback to help clinicians and healthcare organizations improve health carequality.

The authority to list, or formally recognize,PSOs was established by thePatient Safety and Quality ImprovementAct of 2005. Although the statute makespatient safety event reporting privilegedand confidential, it does not relieve cliniciansor health care organizations frommeeting reporting requirements underfederal, state, or local laws. The statuteand the proposed regulation, however,address an important barrier that currentlyexists—the fear of legal liability orsanctions that can result from discussingand analyzing patient safetyevents.