JCAHO to launch global patient safety center

The initial focus will be on reviewing and publicizing research findings.

By Andis Robeznieks — Posted April 18, 2005

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Identifying patient safety issues, finding solutions to the problems and then spreading the findings to physicians is the goal behind the International Center for Patient Safety that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations launched this month.

The center will be housed at the Joint Commission's facilities in suburban Chicago and will initially operate with a three-person staff.

The center might conduct its own research in the future, but JCAHO President Dennis S. O'Leary, MD, said the initial focus will be on publicizing other researchers' discoveries that nurture cultures of safety and on promoting continuous system-based patient safety improvements.

"That's probably the most important thing we'll do," he said. "We'll be doing some solution development, but there is a lot of information on solutions out there that hasn't been widely disseminated."

James W. Mold, MD, MPH, professor and director of research at the Dept. of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, agreed with that assessment.

"Since a lot of people are struggling with the same issues, the chances are that someone already has figured out a better way to do something, but they are not necessarily the people who publish papers or give presentations," Dr. Mold said.

He encouraged the center to work with physicians in practice-based research networks to find solutions to patient safety issues in primary care, because, he said, "they have their fingers on the pulse of what's going on in real-world practice."

From working to find answers to the problems that health care systems in developing nations face to seeing how other nations have solved problems, the center's search for safety solutions will be international in scope, Dr. O'Leary said.

William Minogue, MD, director of the Maryland Patient Safety Center, said that is a wise approach. For example, he said that Australian physicians have been leaders in using hospital rapid-response teams and, if the center is able to educate Americans about this and other successes occurring elsewhere, then it will be a worthwhile project.

"We're not the only country doing creative things," Dr. Minogue said. "This is a global effort."

The JCAHO facility is not an unnecessary duplication of what his center and others like it are already doing, Dr. Minogue said. "We have a lot of ground to cover, so the more the merrier."

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External links

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' press release announcing the formation of the Joint Commission International Center for Patient Safety, March 11 (link)

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