PSO – Frequently Asked Questions

Non-PSO Members

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.

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

Healthcare entities join THA PSO by signing an agreement and paying an annual fee.

For hospitals, cost is based on inpatient volumes as reported in Joint Annual Reports (JAR) data. For non-hospital members, cost is based on the type of organization.

PSO members determine the type and number of events that they report to the PSO.

THA PSO serves hospitals, health systems, and hospital-owned healthcare service entities that are located or headquartered in Tennessee.

New PSO Members

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 and unlimited phone consultations. THA PSO staff have a variety of written guides, examples, tools, and resources to share as needed. The THA PSO Advisory Council is available to answer questions and provide support.

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

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 not disclose patient safety work product without ensuring it meets an allowable provision and complies with your hospital’s policy.

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.

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.

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PSO – Frequently Asked Questions