How to find the best PSO for you

Questions to ask before joining a Patient Safety Organization (PSO):

Official logo for certified PSOs

Tool from AHRQ to find the right PSO for you

Choosing a Patient Safety Organization


Is the PSO “listed” by AHRQ? If the PSO is not listed, privilege and confidentiality protections of the Patient Safety Act will not apply. To find out if a PSO is listed, visit AHRQ’s Web site section on Listed PSOs, updated weekly at

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety was one of the first organizations in 2008 to be listed with AHRQ as a Patient Safety Organization (PSO).  The Center has maintained its designation since 2008 and is one of the largest and most diverse PSOs in the nation.  CPS Listed as a PSO – Press Release

Do you need a PSO that specializes in a particular area of care? Some PSOs specialize by topic area, such as anesthesia or medication adverse events, while other PSOs may handle all kinds of patient safety events. Providers can opt to work with more than one PSO, depending on their needs.

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety collects and analyzes all kinds of patient safety events, specializing in events from healthcare organizations like hospitals, long-term care, and EMS.  Center for Patient Safety PSONews

Where is the PSO located? Any PSO can operate nationwide, but some providers may prefer to work with a PSO that is based in their geographic area.

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety’s main office is located in the heart of the United States, in Jefferson City, Missouri.  Technology allows the Center’s PSO services to be conducted virtually.

What other providers are working with the PSO? Consider the type and number of providers who work with the PSO. For example, you may wish to work with a PSO that contracts with providers similar to yours.

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety works with Hospitals, ASCs, EMS, medical offices and Long-term Care providers.  The Center is one of the largest and most diverse PSOs in the nation, working with providers across the continuum of care.  The Center for Patient Safety is a dynamic and extremely active PSO.

Does the PSO provide direct assistance to its clients or does it use consultants? Find out if the PSO’s expertise comes from internal staff or external consultants.

Answer:  The Center’s internal staff has years of hands-on healthcare experience from within the healthcare arena, including EMS, long-term care, hospitals, home care and medical offices.  Staff will work with you one-on-one to determine the most suitable application of PSO services for your organization.  For additional input on formulating best practices, providing education, and conducting specific data analysis, the Center utilizes a vast and varied team of healthcare industry experts from across the country.

How does the PSO handle your data? Discuss the policies and procedures that the PSO has in place for handling data. Data submitted to a PSO must be handled in accordance with the Patient Safety Rule to remain protected.

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety complies with Patient Safety Rules to collect and contain submitted data in a safe and secure environment.  Policies and procedures that outline the containment of the Center’s data is available upon request.

Does the PSO use the NPSD? The National Patient Safety Database (NPSD) aggregates non-identifiable information on patient safety (not traceable to any specific facility, provider, or patient) on a national basis to identify quality and safety problems and their solutions more quickly and effectively. The more data that PSOs submit, the more we can learn about improving patient safety.

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety supports national patient safety efforts and will be submitting collected data, with participating organization permission, to the NPSD in 2014.

Does the PSO use AHRQ’s Common Formats? PSOs are required to collect and analyze data in a standardized manner. AHRQ created the Common Formats (common definitions and reporting formats) to facilitate the collection and reporting of patient safety events and to improve health care providers’ efforts to eliminate harm. Read more about Common Formats at

Answer:  The Center for Patient Safety collects data using AHRQ’s Common Formats.  If AHRQ Common Formats are not available for a specific provider type, the Center creates acceptable formats for data collection based on multiple levels of input and industry analysis.


Other factors to consider when selecting a PSO:

Which types of analysis and what services does the PSO offer, and are they valuable to you? 

Answer: The Center for Patient Safety is an organization dedicated to patient safety – and that’s all we do.  In addition to the federal designation of Patient Safety Organization with available protections, the Center’s services include patient safety education, toolkits, resources, expert consultation, data analysis and alerts, patient safety culture assessments, and much, much more!

How does the PSO stay up to date about current patient safety practices, and how does it get help if it has questions? 

Answer:  The Center has a multitude of healthcare industry experts, including currently practicing healthcare providers that sit on committees and panels and contribute to the Center’s knowledge sharing and information dissemination. Additionally, staff attend many annual national conferences as well as quarterly and monthly meetings to stay up-to-date with the current patient safety environment and trends.  Staff also are invited to speak as content experts at many patient safety conferences (see our Speaker’s Bureau for more information).

Will the PSO help you set up a patient safety evaluation system? 

Answer:  The Center will assist you and provide you with all of the necessary resources and staff guidance to set up your patient safety evaluation system (PSES).  We provide a toolkit and one-on-one support to ensure your PSES matches your organization’s needs.

Does the PSO have a good understanding of patient safety rules and regulations?   

Answer:  As one of the first PSOs in the United States, the Center for Patient Safety has spent years evaluating, creating, and fine-tuning its resources based on federal criteria for PSES creation and case-law outcomes. Center staff will walk you through the entire process.


Want more information?  Contact any member of our PSO Team!

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The Center for Patient Safety believes that collaboration and sharing are the best ways to drive improvement. We strive to provide the right solutions and resources to improve healthcare safety and quality.