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AHRQ-Funded Patient Safety Research on Reducing Medication, Diagnostic Errors

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality   (AHRQ)

November 5, 2018

Research studies funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and published today in Health Affairs Link to Exit Disclaimer highlight challenges and potential strategies for making health care safer in the United States.

The articles explore a broad range of safety initiatives, including the use of health information technologies to reduce medication errors, emerging efforts to improve diagnoses and how clinical teams might respond more effectively to surgical complications.

"As results from this innovative collection of research show, some of the brightest minds in research are part of the effort to improve patient safety," said Rear Adm. Jeffrey Brady, M.D., M.P.H., director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. "This growing momentum signals a sharpening focus on how to significantly reduce the risks of patient harm."

The AHRQ-funded studies delve into several critical aspects of patient safety and health information technology. Articles explore such topics as:


Medication errors among children caused by electronic health record usability issues.

Communication failures that increase the risk of death following surgical complications.

Policy initiatives aimed at reducing pressure sores, falls, infections and medication errors in nursing homes.

Potential changes in electronic prescribing systems to improve medication order safety.

Better teamwork and use of health information technology to reduce diagnostic errors.



One article in the journal is co-authored by Kerm Henriksen, Ph.D., an AHRQ senior advisor in human factors and patient safety. Dr. Henriksen and AHRQ grantee Anjali Joseph, Ph.D., explored how health care facility design can impact patient safety.

Articles in the Health Affairs patient safety-themed issue affirm AHRQ's ongoing commitment to lead national efforts to improve patient safety. Dr. Brady co-chairs the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety, a group established earlier this year to develop a national action plan for reducing patient harms. The committee is also co-chaired by Tejal Gandhi, M.D., M.P.H., chief clinical and safety officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Together, members of the committee want to accelerate progress in reducing patient harm.

The new Health Affairs issue focused on patient safety was sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Abstracts of the articles can be found at the journal's Web site, Link to Exit Disclaimer.

AHRQ, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system. AHRQ develops the knowledge, tools and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals and policymakers make informed health decisions. Learn more about the Agency at


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