From University of South Florida Health Sciences Center
USF creates national patient safety center to study fall-related injuries, medication errors
TAMPA, Fla. — A national center to study patient safety — with a focus on preventing injuries from falls and medication errors — has been created at the University of South Florida.
USF, in collaboration with the Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, was this month awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to establish the Suncoast Developmental Center for Patient Safety Evaluation & Research. The center will bring together health professionals from universities, the Veterans Administrations' regional health care networks, and community hospitals and agencies to share and analyze data on fall-related injuries and medication errors, particularly among elderly patients.
"This is a major accomplishment. We've received the federal seal of approval as a center for patient safety research," said principal investigator Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD, USF professor of public health and medicine. "USF will work with the VA and the community in developing innovative approaches to improve patient safety in hospitals, long-term care facilities and homes."
The Suncoast Center's team will translate findings about patient falls and medication errors into educational programs and clinical practices and technologies that will make the health care system safer, Dr. Wolfson said. It will build on the success of the Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, established at James A. Haley VA Hospital in 1999 and directed by Audrey Nelson, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate director of clinical research for the USF College of Nursing.
The VA's interdisciplinary center has already attracted more than $12 million in research and infrastructure funding to maximize the mobility, safety and quality of life of the frail elderly and people with disabilities — two populations at high risk for falls. The new AHRQ funding to USF will help expand the patient safety research begun in the veterans hospital to patients in the area's private hospitals and the community.
Dr. Nelson said researchers will identify checks and balances that can be built into the health care system to prevent or reduce mistakes. For example, one proposed study would explore bar codes on medication containers that could be electronically matched against patient identification codes to assure the patient is receiving the correct drug at the right dosage.
The major partners in the Suncoast Developmental Center for Patient Safety Evaluation Resarch are the USF Health Sciences Center — the colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health; the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8) Patient Safety Center of Inquiry; Stetson College of Law; the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration; Florida A&M College of Pharmacy; and the Tampa Bay Alliance, a non-profit consortium of community-based health care providers.
The USF grant was announced earlier this month by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson as part of a $50-million federal investment by the to address the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths related to medical errors each year. The Suncoast Center is one of more than 90 projects across the country that will compile evidence on how to reduce medical errors and share it with patients, clinicians and policymakers to use in improving health care.