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Two new RFAs seek applications for research on patient safety

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is seeking applications from academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, clinics and other delivery systems, and government agencies to perform patient safety research. The first request for applications (RFA) will provide support to establish as many as six new Centers of Excellence for Patient Safety Research and Practice. The Agency expects to award up to $5 million under this RFA. The second RFA will provide funding to establish as many as 10 new Developmental Centers for Evaluation and Research in Patient Safety (DCERPS). AHRQ expects to award up to $2 million in exploratory grants under this second RFA.

The DCERPS are unique because they will include multidisciplinary teams of researchers, including those who are familiar with human factors psychology, organizational processes, and error reporting; direct ties to a medical delivery system through formal data-sharing agreements and other methods; and evidence-based patient safety education programs. DCERPS projects will last up to 3 years, including an initial planning phase of up to 1 year followed by a 1- to 2-year pilot study. Special consideration for this RFA will be given to researchers who have not been funded as principal investigators on AHRQ projects within the past 2 years. The RFA also includes a set-aside for partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities or Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

These are the first two in a series of RFAs to be released under the Agency's new patient safety and medical errors research program. AHRQ plans to release another four patient safety RFAs in FY 2001. At the heart of this patient safety competitive demonstration program is a portfolio of projects to test the effectiveness, cost, and cost-effectiveness of diverse reporting strategies and information technology innovation on the identification, management, and reduction of medical errors.

AHRQ's research program will address themes gathered from meetings with key stakeholders, public- and private-sector national summit meetings, research-agenda sessions, and the report of the Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force, Doing What Counts for Patient Safety—Federal Actions to Reduce Medical Errors and Their Impact. The recent National Summit on Medical Errors and Patient Safety provides a user-driven agenda to which applicants are asked to respond.

Projects funded under these RFAs should address a number of specific issues, including:

  • Learning the most effective lessons from medical errors as a means to improve patient safety.
  • Developing a more complete understanding of the types and causes of medical errors in a variety of settings, levels of care, and patient populations.
  • Understanding the impact of systems and professional and organizational cultures on reducing medical errors and improving patient safety.
  • Describing and testing the role of informatics in improving clinical decisionmaking, reducing errors, and advancing patient safety.

AHRQ also will support a coordinating center to facilitate interaction between all entities funded under the Agency's patient safety programs. The coordinating center will help to ensure that the findings from the Centers of Excellence, the DCERPs, and other parts of the Agency's patient safety initiative are translated into measurable improvements in health care.

Letters of intent for these two RFAs are due to AHRQ by January 3, 2001; applications are due January 24, 2001. For application instructions and more information on the Centers of Excellence RFA (HS-01-002), select in the NIH Guide, October 24, 2000. For the DCERPs RFA (HS-01-007), select in the NIH Guide, November 8, 2000.

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