HHS and AHRQ Announce Patient Safety, Malpractice Grants

Heather Comak, June 15, 2010

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality announced last Friday that they had awarded $23 million in grants in the name of a patient safety and medical liability initiative, as well as $2 million for final contract evaluation. The grants are the product of an announcement on patient safety that President Barack Obama made in September 2009 to a joint session of Congress.

The initiative includes grant money for both demonstration and planning grants in the realm of patient safety and medical malpractice, as well as funding to review existing reforms of the medical liability system.

"The goals of the HHS Patient Safety and Medical Liability initiative are widely supported throughout the healthcare system, and we solicited broad-based input to ensure that it reflects the needs of stakeholders," said Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, director of the AHRQ, in a statement. "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 demonstration grants, which were awarded in allotments of up to $3 million and total $19.7 million, were given for projects that will be implementing and evaluating evidence-based patient safety and medical malpractice projects. To view the full list of recipients of demonstration grants, visit www.ahrq.gov/qual/liability/demogrants.

The planning grants, which were awarded in allotments of up to $300,000 and total $3.5 million, allow recipients to do some detailed planning around patient safety and medical liability reform. To view the full list of recipients of planning grants, visit www.ahrq.gov/qual/liability/planninggrants.

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

President Obama originally said that the initiative should award grants to programs that trial models for:

  • Focusing on patient safety by reducing preventable injuries
  • Encouraging better communication between doctors and patients
  • Compensating patients quickly and fairly for medical injuries, but also discouraging frivolous lawsuits
  • Reducing liability premiums

To find more about the initiative, visit www.ahrq.gov/qual/liability/.

Heather Comak Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals. Contact Heather by e-mailing hcomak@hcpro.com.
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