AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
AHRQ and NPSF: #UnitedforPatientSafety
Twenty years ago, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) was created to enhance awareness of issues related to patient safety. Two years later, AHRQ was officially designated as the Federal government's lead patient safety agency. So it's fair to say that our two organizations have been working alongside clinicians and others in leading the field toward solutions for the pernicious problems that affect far too many of our patients every day.
Collectively, we’ve seen pockets of success in patient safety over the past two decades, but progress has been slower and more fragmented than we hoped. Some projects have been demonstrably successful and there have been measurable results. We're making progress at the front lines of care, taking stock of the best science and safe practices and giving providers the tools they need to implement changes to keep patients safe. Examples include AHRQ's Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), which has been shown to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and other safety problems in a variety of care settings; and the Safety foundation's Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety, which oversees a rigorous credentialing process attesting to patient safety expertise.
As clinicians, we know firsthand how complex health care can be. Each patient, setting, and clinical team comes with its own set of values, culture, and norms. Yet, we all are dedicated to the goal of making sure that health care is provided without harm. That's why we continue to work together during Patient Safety Awareness Week, an annual event during which we call attention to the issue for health professionals and the public.
This week, NPSF is issuing a Call to Action recommending widespread recognition of patient safety as a public health concern. AHRQ could not agree more; it is imperative that safety challenges be confronted from all quarters, with the public health community joining the ongoing efforts of health care providers, consumer groups and others. Bringing to bear the strengths of the Nation's public health apparatus would echo earlier strategic successes to address urgent health concerns, such as the battle against HIV/AIDS.
Patient Safety Awareness Week is about public education and awareness of harms, including but not limited to HAIs, because everyone has a role to play. In fact, we address the important role of patients in our programs, and we have identified and tested concrete steps for effectively engaging patients to help improve safety in both hospital and primary care settings.
AHRQ also is releasing the latest in a series of tools to help prevent HAIs: a new toolkit that has been proven to reduce rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infection in long-term care facilities. The toolkit, which is based on the experiences of more than 450 nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide, adapts the CUSP method, and provides tools that are customizable to local needs.
Our goal is to build on the national success we have achieved and accelerate our progress in the next 5 to 10 years. AHRQ is continuing to fund research that will help providers implement proven strategies. Funding opportunities can be found at the Agency's Funding Announcements page. We're seeking innovative ideas from the field to advance our thinking on key patient safety issues, such as HAIs, safe medication use, diagnostic safety, and more.
NPSF's partnerships with patients and families, the health care community, and key stakeholders to advance patient and health care workforce safety, coupled with AHRQ's coordinating role on patient safety within the Federal government, promise to achieve great things for patient safety. For us, every day is patient safety day. We're proud to support each other for Patient Safety Awareness Week, and together we remain #UnitedforPatientSafety.
Dr. Brady is director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety and an assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Gandhi is president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation.