KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Slow Start For PSOs Meant To Help Providers Learn From Mistakes

A federal agency has designated 68 "Patient Safety Organizations" to offer health care providers a way "to share information and learn from problems," Modern Healthcare reports. But, a year after the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality began implementing the program, its "technology has not been finessed enough to really enable that sharing."

PSOs receive information about medical accidents and errors from health providers, and analyze the information in hopes of identifying and resolving common problems. The information they collect is off-limits for use in lawsuits. The program is meant to electronically collect and decipher the information.

"Despite the desire to ensure information can be shared electronically, the (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) common formats currently are in paper form. Addressing that is only the first step in setting up an infrastructure of shared definitions of safety events and an eventual electronic data-sharing system, says William Munier, a physician who is director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at AHRQ." In addition, providers have been slow to sign up for the programs (DerGurahian, 10/14).

A separate program in New Jersey also meant to improve health care provider performance was released Wednesday, The Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The sixth annual Hospital Performance Report measures quality for treatment of heart attacks, pneumonia, surgical care and heart failure. "Everyone starts to improve when you put the spotlight on them," said the president of a nonprofit health care quality group in the state. The state's health commissioner said hospitals had improved, moving from a 90 percent rate of providing appropriate heart attack treatment in 2004 or 97 percent this year (Epstein, 10/14).

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