Professional group targets patient safety

Patient safety professionals are moving toward more prominence and stature in the health care community with the recent launch of the first professional organization devoted to their work.

The American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS), based at the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) in Boston, officially launched recently as the first and only individual membership program for the patient safety field. The announcement was made by Diane C. Pinakiewicz, president of ASPPS and NPSF.

Established to advance patient safety as a unique and vital health care discipline, the ASPPS was created to build an engaged, focused community of individuals committed to accelerating the delivery of safe patient care, Pinakiewicz says. The ASPPS made its debut with 175 inaugural members.

"Ensuring patient safety has never been a more important priority for our healthcare system," says Pinakiewicz. "For too long, the patient safety field has lacked needed cohesion and lines of communication. Today, we are taking the next step toward establishing the consistency in safety practices and tools that will help healthcare professionals keep patients safe."

The ASPPS also announced plans to establish a certification program designed to elevate the patient safety profession through patient safety competencies. Using criteria determined through clinical research and review of best practices, the certification for professionals in patient safety (CPPS) will enable healthcare professionals to implement strategies to reduce medical errors. Taken together with membership in the ASPPS, this certification program will provide a level of professional development for patient safety practitioners that has not previously existed, Pinakiewicz says.

The CPPS certification program is expected to begin in January 2012, she says.

"The ASPPS and the CPPS certification will bring a level of professionalism to the work," Pinakiewicz says. "It also will bring some standardization to the competencies so that when someone is certified, we can feel comfortable there are certain things they know and know how to do."

Membership in the ASPPS is open to professionals whose primary responsibility is patient safety, including risk managers. Others who could be eligible include medical students, providers, quality leaders, and patient safety advocates. "The need for a patient safety professional organization began to emerge as we saw risk management evolve from a reactive effort to a more proactive discipline to improve patient safety," Pinakiewicz says. "The ASPPS was established in recognition of the fact that patient safety is a discipline that has competencies associated with it, that people have a strong commitment to, and that people need a structure to organize around."

More information about the ASPPS is available at


Diane C. Pinakiewicz, President, American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety, Boston. Telephone: (617) 391-9900. E-mail: