HHS gives $50 million for patient safety

December 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has announced the release of $50 million to fund 94 new research grants, contracts and other projects to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has announced the release of $50 million to fund 94 new research grants, contracts and other projects to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety.

The initiative represents the federal government's largest single investment to address the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths related to medical errors each year. The 94 projects now being funded will be carried out at state agencies, major universities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, physicians' offices, professional societies and other organizations across the country.

"Nothing could be more important than making sure patients receive quality care that doesn't cause unintended harm, and our investment in this kind of research will pay off in terms of improved patient safety for all Americans," said Thompson. "These grants will help identify the causes of medical errors and develop effective solutions to strengthen quality of care across the country."

Funded by Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, these projects will address key unanswered questions about how errors occur and provide science-based information on what patients, clinicians, hospital leaders, policy makers and others can do to make the healthcare system safer. The results of this research will identify improvement strategies that work in hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes and other healthcare settings across the nation.

"Today's announcement marks the first coordinated effort to begin compiling the best evidence on how to reduce medical errors and share that evidence with the clinicians and patients who can use it to improve healthcare," said AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg, M.D.

A multi-year effort

This $50 million research initiative is the first phase of a multi-year effort. Many institutions will receive additional funds to continue their work in future years. These projects reflect the input of consumers, healthcare providers and policy makers from a national research summit led last year by the AHRQ and its partners on the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force. There are five major categories of awards – Supporting Demonstration Projects to Report Medical Errors Data, Using Computers and Information Technology to Prevent Medical Errors, Understanding the Impact of Working Conditions on Patient Safety, Developing Innovative Approaches to Improving Patient Safety, and Disseminating Research Results – plus one category for other, miscellaneous patient initiatives. The AHRQ will use the remaining $6.4 million for 10 other projects covering other patient safety research activities, including supporting meetings of state and local officials to advance local patient safety initiatives and assessing the feasibility of implementing a patient safety improvement corps. PR

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