Federal agency designates Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering as Patient Safety Organization

April 24, 2015  

Richard Zink

Richard Zink
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue research center funded by the Regenstrief Foundation to help make the nation's healthcare system safer and more cost efficient has been designated as a Patient Safety Organization (PSO) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Purdue Patient Safety Organization, led by the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, will be one of only two Indiana-based PSOs, serving as an independent source for collecting and analyzing data to better understand the causes of medical errors that lead to adverse health-care events in patients.

"The Regenstrief Purdue PSO will allow healthcare providers to voluntarily report information on patient safety events under legal protection so this information can be used to develop patient safety interventions and solutions in IV medication administration," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "We believe this is an excellent example of using Purdue research to provide value to our extended community."

The RCHE Patient Safety Organization is one of the several RCHE research projects that have benefited from Purdue's strategic collaboration with the Regenstrief Foundation. The Indianapolis-based foundation is contributing $10 million through 2018 for RCHE's research efforts to apply engineering, management and science principles to improve the U.S. healthcare system.

RCHE's research and dissemination partners include 13 provider and professional organizations, and the Mayo Clinic became a partner in 2010, joining others such as the American College of Physicians, Ascension Health and Community Health Network.

PSOs, which are administered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), were launched to implement the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, enacted by Congress in response to national concern over the number of preventable medical errors occurring that adversely affect patients.

The federal act also created the Patient Safety Rule, which established the framework by which hospitals, doctors and other health providers can voluntarily report information to PSOs, on a privileged and confidential basis, for the aggregation and analysis of patient safety events.

Communications with PSOs are protected to allay privacy concerns about increased risk of liability because of collection and analysis of patient safety data.

"Thanks to efforts to support research and advance the mission of PSOs, our nation saw 1.3 million fewer patients experience adverse drug events, falls, infections and other forms of harm in hospitals, 50,000 lives saved and $12 billion in health spending avoided for a three-year period ending in 2013," said Regenstrief director emeritus Steve Witz, Purdue's St. Vincent Health Chair of Healthcare Engineering.

"The Regenstrief Center's designation as a federal Patient Safety Organization will help us deepen our collaboration with healthcare providers in Indiana and across the region and nation to help save lives."

The AHRQ, which is part of HHS, lists 83 PSOs in 30 states. The other Indiana-based PSO is QAIStys Inc. in Anderson. The AHRQ has published a brochure, Choosing a Patient Safety Organization, to help providers select a PSO appropriate to their needs.

Richard Zink, manager of Catalyze Care development and implementation efforts for RCHE, will lead the RCHE Purdue PSO. Its designation as a federal PSO took effect on Feb. 9.

RCHE helped launch the Indiana Patient Safety Center in 2007 and has been working with major Midwestern hospitals through its Catalyze Care project to establish safety standards for infusion pumps, which have become commonplace for administering drugs to patients.

The Purdue center also has partnered with hospitals in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin and other states to launch the Infusion Pump Informatics Community at Purdue. Through a Web-based tool, users can easily share analysis, data reporting and best practices for what are known as "smart pumps."

Located in Discovery Park, Purdue's hub for interdisciplinary research, RCHE also was a founding member of the Healthcare Systems Engineering Association, a national professional organization promoting excellence in research and education in healthcare systems engineering.

The Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Foundation provided the initial $3 million to launch Purdue's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering in 2005 and has awarded an additional $25 million to expand and extend its partnership with Purdue.

The foundation is named for benefactor Sam Regenstrief, who emigrated from Vienna to Indianapolis as a child and went on to launch the company that manufactured and popularized the low-cost home dishwasher, at one time producing 37 percent of the world's dishwashers in Connersville, Indiana. Regenstrief died in 1988.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

Steve Witz, 765-496-8303, switz@purdue.edu

Richard Zink, 765-494-4180, zinkr@purdue.edu

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