Development of Common Formats

The Common Formats logo is two computers with arrows between them.

In collaboration with the Federal Patient Safety Workgroup (PSWG), the National Quality Forum (NQF), and the public, AHRQ has developed Common Formats for two settings of care – acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

To develop the Common Formats, AHRQ first reviewed existing patient safety event reporting systems from a variety of health care organizations. Working with the PSWG and Federal subject matter experts, AHRQ and the PSWG developed, piloted, drafted, and released Version 0.1 Beta of the Common Formats (for acute care hospitals) in August 2008.

Through a contract with AHRQ, NQF solicited feedback on Version 0.1 Beta from private sector organizations and individuals. The NQF, a nonprofit organization that focuses on health care quality, then convened an expert panel to review the comments received and provide feedback. Based on the NQF's feedback, AHRQ, in conjunction with the PSWG, further revised the Common Formats and released Version 1.0 in September 2009.

The review process above was repeated to further refine the Common Formats and to incorporate any public comments on Version 1.0 prior to finalization of the technical specifications for electronic implementation. These modified formats for acute care hospitals were made available as Version 1.1 in March 2010.

In conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and the full PSWG, AHRQ revised the device event-specific Common Format (available in Version 1.1) to include patient safety events related to Health Information Technology (HIT). This Common Format, Device or Medical/Surgical Supply including HIT Device (Version 1.1a), was released in October 2010.

AHRQ and the PSWG released Common Formats for skilled nursing facilities in March 2011, and in November 2011, an additional module (Beta Version) for venous thromboembolism (VTE) was incorporated that includes both deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). In April 2012, AHRQ and the PSWG developed Common Formats—Hospital Version 1.2, which featured new content to incorporate the event-specific formats VTE and Device/HIT. In July 2012, Common Formats–Readmissions Version 0.1 Beta was released to allow hospitals to aggregate data and analyze readmission attributes.

Most recently, AHRQ released Common Formats for Surveillance—Hospital. Until now, Common Formats have been designed to support only traditional event reporting. Common Formats for Surveillance—Hospital are designed to provide, through retrospective review of medical records, information that is complementary to that derived from event reporting systems. These formats will facilitate improved detection of events and calculation of adverse event rates in populations reviewed.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Development of the Formats is an ongoing process. AHRQ will continue to refine the Common Formats, releasing new versions periodically. The Agency relies on feedback, especially from users of the Formats, to inform the development of new versions. Comment on Common Formats at the National Quality Forum (NQF).