News Briefs

Strides made in patient safety, experts say

Experts participating in a recent panel discussion of progress in patient safety since the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark 1999 report on medical errors, To Err is Human, said significant strides have been made in the five years since the report but that much more needs to be done to make health care safer. Participants in the event, sponsored by the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), included three authors of the report: Donald Berwick, MD, IHI president and CEO; Janet Corrigan, senior board director for Health Care Services at the IOM; and Lucien Leape, MD, adjunct professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health.

To promote continued progress, the panelists called for uniform and clearly defined patient safety goals and evidence-based measures to reach them; patient safety training in medical and nursing school curricula; more robust public reporting, both voluntary and mandatory; financial incentives for investing in health information technology; and reforms to encourage more open discussion about errors. A transcript of the discussion is available at:

Survey helps measure hospitals’ safety culture

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has unveiled a new tool to help hospitals and health systems evaluate employee attitudes about patient safety in their facilities or within specific units.

The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, released in partnership with Premier Inc. (with offices in San Diego; Charlotte, NC; Oak Brook, IL; and Washington, DC), the Department of Defense, and the American Hospital Association, addresses a critical aspect of patient safety improvement: measuring organizational conditions that can lead to adverse events and patient harm.

Assessments of patient safety culture typically include an evaluation of a variety of organizational factors that have an impact on patient safety, including awareness about safety issues, evaluating specific patient safety interventions, tracking changes in patient safety over time, setting internal and external benchmarks, and fulfilling regulatory requirements or other directives.

The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes the survey guide, the survey, as well as a feedback report template in which hospitals can enter their data to produce customized feedback reports for hospital management and staff. These items provide hospitals with the basic knowledge and tools needed to conduct a safety culture assessment and suggestions about how to use the data.

The survey was pilot tested with more than 1,400 hospital employees from 21 hospitals in the United States to ensure that the items were easily understood and relevant to patient safety in a hospital.

To ensure widespread awareness and use of the survey, AHRQ and its partners will host a toll-free audioconference this month to help health professionals adopt and use the survey. Details on the audio conference will be made available on the AHRQ web site and AHRQ’s electronic newsletter in early January.

To see the survey, go to To order printed copies, call (800) 358-9295. E-mail:

NDEP publishes two evidence-based guides

The Bethesda, MD-based National Diabetes Education Program has published two evidence-based guides for health care to help providers and patients with diabetes and pre- diabetes. Guiding Principles for Diabetes Care helps providers identify people with pre-diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes and provide patient-centered care. 4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes for Life helps providers educate patients in vital self-care principles and to be active partners in their own care.

Information for children and high-risk minority populations also is available, including materials in Spanish, Asian, and Pacific Islander languages. For more information, go to: To order one of the guides, call (800) 438-5383.

Nursing informatics groups form alliance

Eighteen organizations representing nurses who work in nursing information technology have formed the Alliance for Nursing Informatics, which will collaborate on public policy and standards activities and the dissemination of best practices.

Affiliating organizations include the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the American Nursing Informatics Association.

"As more health care organizations adopt electronic health records and technology solutions, nurses who manage and work in the nursing informatics field have increasingly vital roles in designing and implementing systems that enhance the safety and efficiency of patient care," says Joyce Sensmeier, RN, HIMSS’ director of professional services. AMIA and HIMSS each will appoint a co-chair to the new organization.