Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a PSO?
Patient safety organizations (PSOs) are entities that assist members in improving patient safety and reducing medical harm. Established by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, PSOs receive certain information about patient harm events from members and provide analysis and feedback to improve safety. This information has federal-level confidentiality and privilege protection.
2. What are advantages of PSO membership? (from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
When a provider works with a PSO, many of the long-recognized impediments to successful improvement projects can be overcome:
Provider fear of increased liability from participating in quality initiatives. The law provides confidentiality protections (inability to introduce the protected information in a legal proceeding), when certain requirements are met.
Enables all licensed or certified health care facilities and clinicians to participate. Unlike state protections that often target hospitals or physicians, these protections are broad.
Protections are nationwide and uniform. This is especially valuable for systems with facilities in multiple states; a corporate system can share its protected data system-wide with all of it affiliated providers, if it chooses to do so.
Insufficient volume. Patient safety events are often too rare for a facility to identify causal factors with certainty. Each provider benefits from the insights that it can obtain from a PSO that aggregates large volumes of event data from multiple providers.
Lack of feedback. The quantity and types of data you report to a PSO and the specific types of analysis and feedback you want are a matter for negotiation with the PSO. They are not determined by regulation.
Inability to protect deliberations or analyses at your facility. The law permits providers to undertake deliberations and analyses at their facilities that become protected as Patient Safety Work Product immediately as long as they are conducted in the provider's Patient Safety Evaluation System
3. How do I join THA PSO?
Healthcare entities join THA PSO by signing an agreement and paying an annual fee.
4. What is the cost of joining THA PSO?
Cost is based on the type if healthcare entity and, if a hospital, inpatient volumes for the most recent calendar year. The current THA PSO fee schedule can be viewed here.
5. Does PSO membership have data reporting requirements?
PSO members determine the type and number of events that they report to the PSO.
New PSO Members
1. How does THA PSO assist me in getting started with PSO participation?
THA PSO has a variety of resources to assist members in getting started. THA PSO staff are available to provide on-site orientation and training program and unlimited phone consultations. THA PSO staff have a variety of written guides, examples, tools, and resources to share as needed. A THA PSO Member Guide is in development and will soon be posted on the THA PSO website. The THA PSO Advisory Council is available to answer questions and provide support.
2. Can I talk to other hospitals in THA PSO to learn about their PSO operations?
Yes. Members of the THA PSO Advisory Council are available to answer questions and share their experiences. THA PSO staff may be able to connect you with additional PSO members for any further questions or needs.
Existing PSO Members
1. What should I do if an outside entity wants to see patient safety work product?
There are specific provisions in the Patient Safety Rule for disclosure of patient safety work product. Contact your hospital's PSO lead regarding the request. Review your hospital's patient safety evaluation system policy for guidance. Do no disclose patient safety work product without ensuring it meets an allowable provision and complies with your hospital's policy.
2. What resources are available to our legal counsel regarding PSO protections?
THA PSO can provide information about PSO case law, opinions, and amicus briefs which can serve as resources for legal counsel. THA PSO can provide contact information to attorneys with experience in defending PSO cases across the nation.
3. How can I optimize the value of our PSO membership?
Consider the reasons your organization joined the PSO and utilize the PSO services that best align with those reasons. Encourage staff to join PSO education offerings and read PSO publications. Ask THA PSO if there are opportunities to be more involved.