The Patient Safety Privacy Protection Center (PSOPPC) has received many questions regarding Common Formats. In response to those questions, the PSOPPC has produced a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and corresponding answers.
AHRQ's Common Formats are a set of standardized definitions and formats that make it possible to collect, aggregate, and analyze uniformly structured information about patient safety for local, regional, and national learning. They have been developed for use by healthcare providers that choose to work with patient safety organizations (PSOs) listed by AHRQ under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (Patient Safety Act). The Common Formats are also available in the public domain to encourage their widespread adoption. An entity does not need to be listed as a PSO or working with one to use the Common Formats. However, the Federal privilege and confidentiality protections only apply to information developed as patient safety work product by providers and PSOs working under the Patient Safety Act.
AHRQ has developed Common Formats for Event Reporting for several healthcare settings and event types. AHRQ has also developed Common Formats for Surveillance and continues to work on developing new Common Formats.
PSOs are required to collect and analyze patient safety work product in a standardized manner to the extent practical and appropriate, to permit valid comparisons of similar cases among similar providers. Using the AHRQ Common Formats (common definitions and reporting formats) makes it possible to collect, aggregate, and analyze uniformly structured information about patient safety for local, regional, and national learning.
Generally, the CFER can be used for:
Currently, there are CFER that include several event-specific modules for hospitals (CFER-H) and nursing homes (CFER-NH). There is also a CFER designed for community pharmacies (CFER-CP) and a CFER for diagnostic safety (CFER-DS) designed for use in any healthcare setting.
The CFER-DS is designed to help healthcare providers collect data for analysis of Diagnostic Safety Events in a standardized manner across healthcare settings and specialties for the purpose of learning about how to improve diagnostic safety and better support clinicians in the diagnostic process. It is intended to facilitate the collection and organization of a basic set of meaningful data about diagnostic safety events that can be used, aggregated, and analyzed for learning and improvement. Having a common frame of reference and standardized data elements makes shared learning possible at local, regional, and national levels.
The CFS is a set of event descriptions used in retrospective review of medical records to identify whether certain patient safety events occurred. The CFS is designed to provide information that is complementary to that derived from event reporting systems. The term "surveillance" in this context refers to the improved detection of events and calculation of adverse event rates in populations reviewed that will facilitate collection of comparable performance data over time and across populations of patients. A beta version of the CFS, which includes only the event descriptions, designed for hospitals, is currently available. The CFS is used in the AHRQ Quality and Safety Review System (QSRS).
The following Common Formats versions are active and available for implementation and use by healthcare providers and PSOs:
PSOs may send data from these versions to the PSOPPC for de-identification and submission to the Network of Patient Safety Databases (NPSD). CFER-DS V1.0, released in May 2022, is the first version of Common Formats for Diagnostic Safety. Providers and PSOs can begin use of it at any time.
The final set of Common Formats include:
Development of the Common Formats is an ongoing process. AHRQ welcomes feedback, especially from all users, to improve the current Common Formats and inform the development of new types of Common Formats. Any comments on the Common Formats versions that are active for reporting can be submitted through the Common Formats Commenting Tool.