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HHS Announces Patient Safety and Medical Liability Demonstration Projects

Press Release Date: June 11, 2010

The Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS's) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) ) today announced grants to support efforts by States and health systems to implement and evaluate patient safety approaches and medical liability reforms. The demonstration and planning grants are part of the patient safety and medical liability initiative that President Obama announced during a September 9, 2009, address to a joint session of Congress.

As part of his vision for a health care system that puts patient safety first and allows doctors to focus on practicing medicine, the President directed the Secretary of HHS to help States and health care systems test models that: (1) put patient safety first and work to reduce preventable injuries; (2) foster better communication between doctors and their patients; (3) ensure that patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries, while also reducing the incidence of frivolous lawsuits; and (4) reduce liability premiums.

Overall funding for the initiative is $25 million, with $23 million allocated to grants and $2 million allocated to a final evaluation contract. The HHS Patient Safety and Medical Liability initiative supports the following:

  • Grants to jump-start and evaluate efforts. Three-year grants of up to $3 million to States and health systems for implementation and evaluation of patient safety and medical liability demonstrations.
  • Planning grants. One year grants of up to $300,000 to States and health systems in order to plan to implement and evaluate patient safety and medical liability demonstrations.
  • Review of existing initiatives. In December 2009, AHRQ issued a review of reforms to the medical liability system and their impact on health care quality, patient safety, and medical liability claims.

"This new research is the largest government investment connecting medical liability to quality and aims to improve the overall quality of health care," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Some of the reforms that are being planned and tested under HHS's initiative address limitations of the current medical liability system—such as costs, patient safety, and administrative burden for doctors. Grants support the creation of a judge-directed negotiation program, the development of "safe harbors" for state-endorsed evidence-based care guidelines, and early disclosure and offers of prompt compensation.

Another component of the initiative is an evaluation of improvements in both patient safety and medical liability systems. The evaluation is designed to develop the evidence base that will inform long-term solutions to the medical liability problem. This evaluation project was awarded to JBA/RAND for $2 million.

"The goals of the HHS Patient Safety and Medical Liability initiative are widely supported throughout the health care system, and we solicited broad-based input to ensure that it reflects the needs of stakeholders," said Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., AHRQ director. "The projects we have funded help create measurable differences in the safety of health care for patients and help bring rationality and fairness to our medical liability system."

The funded projects are:

Demonstration Grants:

  • Timothy McDonald, M.D., J.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, $2,998,083.
  • Stanley Davis, M.D., Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis, MN, $2,982,690.
  • Eric Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX, $1,796,575.
  • Ann Hendrich, M.S., R.N., F.A.A.N., Ascension Health System, St. Louis, MO, $2,990,612.
  • Thomas Gallagher, M.D., University of Washington, Seattle, WA, $2,972,209.
  • Judy Kluger, J.D., New York State Unified Court System, New York, NY, $2,999,787.
  • Alice Bonner, M.S., APRN, BC, Massachusetts State Department of Public Health, Boston, MA, $2,912,566.

Planning Grants:

  • Lynn Marie Crider, J.D., Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research, Portland, OR $299,458.
  • Richard David, M.D., John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, $293,225.
  • Dianne Garcia, J.D., Multicare Health System, Tacoma, WA, $291,810.
  • Wendell Hoffman, M.D., Sanford Research, Sioux Falls, SD, $294,137.
  • Elizabeth Guenther, M.D., M.P.H., University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, $299,999.
  • Karen Domino, M.D., M.P.H., University of Washington, Seattle, WA, $295,837.
  • David Baker, Ph.D., Carilion Medical Center, Roanoke, VA, $280,924.
  • Kenneth Sands, M.D., M.P.H., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, $273,782.
  • Nicoletta Tessler, M.A., Psy.D., Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL, $299,576.
  • Cynthia Shellhaas, M.D., M.P.H., Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, $187,437.
  • John Buckley, M.D., Wishard Health Services, Indianapolis, IN, $154,124.
  • Cindy Lou Corbett, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman, WA, $298,810.
  • Steven Crane, M.D., NC State/Department HHS, Raleigh, NC, $297,710.

For details on each project go to:

For more information, please contact HHS Press Office: (202) 690-6343; AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855.

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Page last reviewed June 2010
Internet Citation: HHS Announces Patient Safety and Medical Liability Demonstration Projects. June 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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