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AHRQ issues two RFAs on patient safety research

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently announced two new Requests for Applications (RFAs) on patient safety research. One is focused on collecting and using information to reduce medical errors, and the other concerns the use of clinical informatics to promote patient safety. These new RFAs are numbers three and four in a series of six RFAs on patient safety to be issued by AHRQ this fiscal year. The two new RFAs are described here.

Collecting and using information to reduce medical errors

AHRQ is seeking applications from organizations—including universities, health care delivery systems, and State and local government agencies—to fund up to 13 cooperative agreements for demonstration projects that will assess the effectiveness of various methods of collecting and using information to reduce medical errors and their impact. AHRQ expects to award up to $25.0 million annually in fiscal years 2001-2003 to support these cooperative agreements under this RFA.

The projects funded under this RFA will evaluate which data should be collected, how the data should be aggregated and analyzed, how the data should be reported to provide useful information to those trying to reduce patient injuries from medical errors, and how the data can be protected from unintentional disclosure. AHRQ expects award recipients to work with each other to test the effectiveness of various methods of collecting, analyzing, reporting, and using information on patient safety.

The projects are expected to continue for up to 3 years. In addition to evaluating error reporting systems that can collect and analyze data to identify risks to patient safety and develop effective methods of providing that information to clinicians and others, AHRQ seeks to test effective methods of telling patients and family members when an error has occurred that has resulted in harm to the patient. Ambulatory care networks that are involved in patient safety data collection are encouraged to submit applications. AHRQ will set aside approximately $2 million per year to support projects that explicitly study medical errors and patient safety efforts in ambulatory care.

Letters of intent for the demonstration projects are due April 2, 2001. Applications are due April 27, 2001.

For more information on this RFA, select NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts, February 2, 2001.

Clinical informatics and patient safety research.

AHRQ is interested in demonstration research projects that use clinical informatics to promote patient safety ("CLIPS"). AHRQ expects to award up to $3.5 million under this RFA. Through CLIPS, AHRQ will assess the extent to which information technology innovations, when applied in various health care settings, contribute to measurable and sustainable improvements in patient safety and quality of care.

Projects funded under this RFA will support development and testing of technology tools, such as hand-held electronic medication and specimen management systems, training simulators for medical education, computerized bar-coding, patient bracelets, smart cards, automated medication dispensing systems, and computerized physician order entry systems that can be used to reduce the risk of medical errors and improve quality of care.

Specifically, AHRQ will consider research in the following three areas:

  1. The role of informatics in improving clinical decisionmaking, reducing errors, and advancing patient safety.
  2. Barriers to acceptance and adoption of health information technology for improved patient safety.
  3. Use of effective strategies to improve patient safety while maintaining patient confidentiality.

The Agency will give special priority to applications that emphasize outpatient health care settings and priority populations, including women and children; elderly, minority, and low-income populations; and patients with special health care needs.

Letters of intent for CLIPS are due April 6, 2001. Applications are due April 23, 2001.

Select the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts, February 23, 2001, for more information on this RFA.

The first RFA in this series was announced on October 26, 2000, and focused on development of Centers of Excellence for Patient Safety Research and Practice. The second RFA, which was released on November 13, announced the Agency's intent to establish up to 10 new Developmental Centers for Evaluation and Research in Patient Safety (DCERPS). Future patient safety RFAs will focus on the effects of working conditions on patient safety and patient safety research dissemination and education.

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