Minimizing Hospital Risks: Patient Safety Organizations in Rhode Island

According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, nearly 100,000 patients die and another 1 million are injured each year due to medical errors. While the United States arguably provides the highest standard of medical care available, the study revealed that there is still substantial room for improvement.

In 2005, Congress established Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) to review hospital mistakes that resulted in harm to patients. Medical mistakes can happen a variety of ways, including:

  • An object being left behind after a procedure
  • An infection resulting from treatment
  • Improper or incorrect prescription by the treating physician
  • Illegible notes on a patient chart resulting in a nurse misreading the dosage or other medication errors
  • Unsafe patient restraint or transport leading to falls and/or broken bones
  • Unknown patient allergies to medication or equipment

These medical mistakes can have a variety of results: from short-term and treatable harms to long-term and permanent injuries. Sometimes a hospital's negligence could even result in death.

The mission of a PSO is to analyze data collected from participating hospitals to determine what went wrong when medical mistakes occur and what can be done to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.

Rhode Island's Participation in PSOs

All 13 private Rhode Island hospitals are cooperating with a PSO sponsored by GE Healthcare to help improve patient safety in the state. Although not required to do so, Rhode Island's voluntary participation with the federally certified GE PSO means that a single platform is used statewide to collect and analyze data on patient medical events. This information will be used to provide advice to health care providers.

"We're the only ones that have a uniform platform," stated Jean Marie Rocha, Vice President of Clinical Affairs, Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

By using a uniform platform to gather information on medical mistakes, it is easier for Rhode Island hospitals to compare what is happening across the state and to identify and address potential risks to patient safety.

Are Hospitals Safe For Patients?

At some point almost everyone seeks medical treatment at a hospital, urgent care center or doctor's office. While participation in a PSO should help improve patient safety at health care providers' offices in Rhode Island, medical mistakes will still occur on occasion. If you or your loved one has been injured during a recent hospital visit or medical procedure, a medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your options.