PSOs serve as independent, external experts who can assist providers in analyzing data that a provider voluntarily chooses to report to the PSO. Providers that work with a PSO can benefit from the ability of PSOs to aggregate data from all of the providers reporting to the PSO, enabling many PSOs to develop the large numbers of patient safety events essential for identifying the underlying causes of infrequent, but often tragic, adverse events.
The Patient Safety Act and Rule provide protections that are designed to allay fears of providers of increased risk of liability if they voluntarily participate in the collection and analysis of patient safety events. The uniform Federal protections that apply to a provider's relationship with a PSO are expected to remove significant barriers that can deter the participation of health care providers in patient safety and quality improvement initiatives, such as fear of legal liability or professional sanctions.
AHRQ has published a short brochure, "Choosing a Patient Safety Organization," to help providers select a PSO appropriate to their needs.