Are You a Member of a Patient Safety Organization? 

Posted By: Latoshua LeGrant | Posted On: February 8, 2017

Are You a Member of a Patient Safety Organization? 

Here’s some obvious reasons why your organization should consider joining a Patient Safety Organization (PSO):

  • Sharing. Submitting adverse event information allows a PSO to aggregate and analyze data and gain insights into common contributing factors, event trends and key learnings.
  • Protecting. A PSO offers a way for licensed healthcare providers to receive the confidentiality and privilege protections in the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.
  • Learning. Working with a PSO offers learning & educational opportunities.
  • Improving. A PSO can recommend proactive measures from lessons learned to assist in the prevention of future adverse events.

Keep in mind that starting in 2017, Qualified Health Plans will ask providers for documentation of participatation in a PSO, Hospital Improvement Innovation Network or Quality Improvement Organization activity.

The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) affirms that when an organization works with a PSO, many of the long-recognized impediments to successful improvement projects can be overcome:

  • Provider fear of increased liability from participating in quality initiatives. The law provides confidentiality protections and privilege protections (inability to introduce the protected information in a legal proceeding), when certain requirements are met.
  • Enables all licensed or certified healthcare facilities and clinicians to participate. Unlike state protections that often target hospitals or physicians, these protections are broad.
  • Protections are nationwide and uniform. This is especially valuable for systems with facilities in multiple states; a corporate system can share its protected data system-wide with all of its affiliated providers, if it chooses to do so.
  • Insufficient volume. Patient safety events are often too rare for a facility to identify causal factors with certainty. Each provider benefits from the insights that it can obtain from a PSO that aggregates large volumes of event data from multiple providers. Moreover, your data remains protected even when the PSO is aggregating it with data from other providers.
  • Lack of feedback. The quantity and types of data you report to a PSO and the specific types of analysis and feedback you want are a matter for negotiation with the PSO. They are not determined by regulation.
  • Inability to protect deliberations or analyses at your facility. The law permits providers to undertake deliberations and analyses at their facilities that become protected as Patient Safety Work Product immediately as long as they are conducted in the provider’s Patient Safety Evaluation System.

In 2008, the NC Quality Center was proud to be the first organization in North Carolina to be certified as an official federal PSO by the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services. The NCQC PSO wants to help you improve patient safety at your organization and be successful! For more information about joining the NCQC PSO and becoming an active member email Nancy Schanz at or