Development of Common Formats

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In collaboration with the Federal Patient Safety Workgroup (PSWG), the National Quality Forum (NQF), and the public, AHRQ has developed Common Formats for three settings of care—hospitals, nursing homes, and community pharmacies.

Common Formats is the generic term for the standardized reporting formats, using common language and definitions that AHRQ is developing for reporting safety concerns from a variety of health care settings and throughout the quality improvement cycle.  Common Formats will allow aggregation of comparable data at local, PSO, regional, and national levels. For more information, see the PSO Privacy Protection Center (PSOPPC). Common Formats are discussed in the Patient Safety Act at 42 USC 299b-23(b).

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 Event Reporting—Hospital in August 2008.

Through a contract with AHRQ, NQF solicited feedback on Version 0.1 Beta 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 and 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 nursing homes 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 for Event Reporting—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.

AHRQ developed Common Formats for Surveillance—Hospital in 2014. 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. The Common Formats for Surveillance—Hospital are open for comment at the NQF.

With help from U.S. retail pharmacies, AHRQ developed Common Formats for Retail Pharmacy Version 1.0. After NQF Expert Panel public comment review and feedback, AHRQ finalized the Common Formats for Community Pharmacy Version 1.0 and released them in December 2016.

Most recently, based on feedback from the PSO community, AHRQ developed Common Formats for Event Reporting—Hospital Version 2.0. This set of Common Formats constitutes a major release and reflects the key changes of a (1) core data set to be used at the local level by providers to PSOs and the PSOPPC for national aggregation and analysis, as well as a (2) supplemental data set that may be collected at the local level for additional analysis, and may be reported to PSOs, but will not be accepted by the PSOPPC for national aggregation and analysis. In addition to the development of condensed event descriptions, the module-specific paper forms were eliminated. These formats were released in May 2017.

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.