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Advisory Council Sends Patient Safety Recommendations to President

In a Sept. 7 report to President Joe Biden, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) made recommendations to enhance patient safety in the United States, emphasizing the urgent needs to mitigate harm to patients and health care workers and increase transparency and accountability in the health care system.

PCAST, an independent federal advisory committee, comprises representatives from various sectors, including industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations, and develops evidence-based recommendations on science, technology, and innovation policy.

The report outlines several strategies to improve patient safety and reduce health care–associated injuries, including:

  • Establish Federal Leadership for Patient Safety: The report advocates to establish an administration-led patient safety initiative that would convene relevant government agencies and create a patient safety coordinator role to oversee and coordinate these efforts. The report also recommends the creation of a National Patient Safety Team, which would include diverse stakeholders and those most affected by patient safety issues.
  • Ensure Evidence-Based Practices for Preventing Harm: The report suggests that the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary develop a list of high-priority adverse events and corresponding evidence-based practices to combat these events. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should incentivize hospitals to employ these practices and require public reporting of high-priority harms by individual health care organizations. The report also suggests the creation of a learning ecosystem and shared accountability system to ensure these practices are implemented and rates of harm are reduced.
  • Partner with Patients and Reduce Disparities in Medical Errors: The report emphasizes the need to engage with patients, families, and communities most affected by unsafe care. It proposes implementing an approach to ensure diverse input and collaboration on patient safety solutions. It also stresses the importance of improving data and transparency to reduce disparities in patient safety.
  • Accelerate Research and Deployment of Practices, Technologies, and Systems of Safe Care: The report suggests that HHS develop a 10-year research and development program to harness advances in human factors, safety science, computer science, and health technologies. It also mentions the need to develop federal health care delivery systems’ capacities and showcase results as exemplars for safer health care.

To implement the recommendations, PCAST suggests that HHS provide additional support to hospitals that lack adequate resources, such as safety net hospitals and those serving disproportionately affected populations.

PCAST notes that implementing these recommendations would promote long-term strategies to reduce medical errors. The council also stresses the importance of harnessing new methods and technology advances to achieve the goal of dramatically reducing patient harm from errors by 2030.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


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