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For PSOs

The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (Patient Safety Act) was enacted in July 2005, and the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement final rule (Patient Safety Rule) was issued in November 2008. The goal of the Patient Safety Act is to improve patient safety by encouraging voluntary and confidential reporting of healthcare events that adversely affect patients. The Patient Safety Act authorizes the creation of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) to administer the patient safety related activities stated in the law. The Patient Safety Rule established a process for designating and creating patient safety work product (PSWP) and for confidentially reporting such information to PSOs.

A listed PSO must certify that it will comply with the following seven criteria specified in the Patient Safety Rule:

  • The mission and primary activity of the PSO must be to conduct activities that are to improve patient safety and the quality of health care delivery
  • The PSO must have appropriately qualified workforce members, including licensed or certified medical professionals
  • The PSO, within the 24-month period that begins on the date of its initial listing as a PSO, and within each sequential 24-month period thereafter, must have two bona fide contracts, each of a reasonable period of time, each with a different provider for the purpose of receiving and reviewing patient safety work product
  • The PSO is not a health insurance issuer, and is not a component of a health insurance issuer
  • The PSO must make disclosures to the Secretary as required under 3.102(d), in accordance with 3.112 of this subpart
  • To the extent practical and appropriate, the PSO must collect patient safety work product from providers in a standardized manner that permits valid comparisons of similar cases among similar providers
  • The PSO must utilize patient safety work product for the purpose of providing direct feedback and assistance to providers to effectively minimize patient risk

There are eight required patient safety activities for listed PSOs:

  • Efforts to improve patient safety and the quality of health care delivery
  • The collection and analysis of PSWP
  • The development and dissemination of information with respect to improving patient safety, such as recommendations, protocols, or information regarding best practices
  • The utilization of PSWP for the purposes of encouraging a culture of safety as well as providing feedback and assistance to effectively minimize patient risk
  • The maintenance of procedures to preserve confidentiality with respect to PSWP
  • The provision of appropriate security measures with respect to patient safety work product
  • The utilization of qualified staff
  • Activities related to the operation of a patient safety evaluation system and to the provision of feedback to participants in a patient safety evaluation system

The Patient Safety Organization Privacy Protection Center (PSOPPC) was created by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support the implementation of the Patient Safety Act. The PSOPPC serves as a resource to PSOs, assists with the implementation and use of the Common Formats, and is responsible for making the data non-identifiable that will be sent to the Network of Patient Safety Databases (NPSD) for national learning. The program is operated under contract [75Q80121C00004] with AHRQ so there is no cost to PSOs for any of the services provided.

This page provides introductory information related to various support activities conducted by the PSOPPC in support of the growing number of PSOs listed with AHRQ. For further assistance, please contact the PSOPPC Help Desk

PSO Workforce will need to obtain an account to access the secure pages of the PSOPPC website. The protected pages allow for the secure submission of patient safety data as well as the PSO's annual PSO Profile update. Additionally, the protected pages contain secure reference materials. To access the secure pages, PSOs must complete a user registration form via DocuSign.

For more information on how to set up accounts with the PSOPPC, please visit the Account Setup section of the PSOPPC website.

PSOs are requested to update their PSO Profile annually to provide information to AHRQ and the Department of Health and Human Services regarding characteristics of themselves as well as the providers with which they work. This information includes the types of providers, settings, and reports for which PSOs conduct patient safety and quality activities. For more information regarding the PSO Profile, please visit the PSO Profile Data Submission page.

For more information, please contact the PSOPPC Help Desk by email at

The PSOPPC is currently accepting patient safety data and will provide support for submitting the data. The PSOPPC is currently accepting patient safety data utilizing the following AHRQ Common Formats:

For more information about AHRQ's Common Formats and the data submission process, please visit the AHRQ Common Formats Background and Patient Safety Data Submission sections of the PSOPPC website.

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