Organizations and Relationships

Congress authorized the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement and enforce the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (Patient Safety Act). HHS carries out these responsibilities through the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the HHS Office for Civil Rights.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

AHRQ is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of healthcare. The AHRQ PSO Program is a Division within the AHRQ Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. It implements the Patient Safety Act and Patient Safety Rule provisions related to patient safety organizations (PSOs) and the network of patient safety databases (NPSD). The PSO Program oversees the PSO listing process, development and maintenance of the AHRQ Common Formats and the NPSD, and provides technical assistance to PSOs, providers and the public. Widespread use of the AHRQ Common Formats and voluntary contributions of data by PSOs to the NPSD make it possible to aggregate and analyze patient safety information from healthcare providers across the country, which can accelerate national learning about patient safety.

AHRQ contractors provide support to the PSO Program for some tasks related to the Common Formats and NPSD:

  • PSO Privacy Protection Center (PSOPPC)
    The PSOPPC receives Common Formats data voluntarily submitted by PSOs and ensures it is nonidentifiable as required by the Patient Safety Act and Patient Safety Rule before submitting it to the NPSD. The PSOPPC also maintains AHRQ's Common Formats and has a process and tools for receiving public comments on them. For new and updated versions of the Common Formats, the PSOPPC convenes an Expert Panel to review the public comments and provide feedback for AHRQ's consideration.
  • Network of Patient Safety Databases (NPSD)
    The NPSD is an interactive evidence-based data management resource for national learning about patient safety authorized by the Patient Safety Act that launched in June 2019. The NPSD receives nonidentifiable data from the PSOPPC on patient safety concerns such as falls and medication incidents and makes it available to the public in the NPSD Dashboards and Chartbooks on the NPSD website.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

The Secretary delegated responsibility for interpreting and enforcing the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Act to the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The AHRQ PSO Division can arrange for technical assistance with OCR for PSOs that have questions about the Patient Safety Act confidentiality requirements. Patient Safety Act confidentiality complaints can be filed with OCR. OCR also interprets and enforces the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules.

Page last reviewed November 2023
Page originally created January 2014

Internet Citation: Organizations and Relationships. Content last reviewed November 2023. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

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