The project aims to raise physician awareness of patient safety issues among ACP-ASIM's 115,000 internist members. ACP-ASIM will develop a patient safety curriculum that will be offered in most of the organization's 77 chapter and regional yearly meetings. Through an interactive online forum, practicing physicians will be helped to improve office-based systems that affect medical care.
The project is unusual, since most research on patient safety has occurred in hospital and institutional settings. "Our goal is no less than to change individual physician's practice in the office setting," said Bernard M. Rosof, MD, chair of the ACP-ASIM Board of Regents.
"The new patient safety curriculum will address several gaps previously identified as contributing to medical errors," Rosof said. "In a systems approach to reduce medical errors, we'll look at communications between physician and patient, and the role of the patient; team training and application of information technology in the office system, and incidents of pharmaceutical drug errors."
"We're starting with our members, the nation's internists," said William J. Hall, MD, ACP-ASIM president. "But we believe that the curriculum and procedures we develop will be applicable to a wide audience of primary care and subspecialty physicians."
The new initiative grew from an effort of ACP-ASIM leaders and committees to determine the organization's optimal role in reducing medical error and improving patient safety. "ACP-ASIM, as the largest medical specialty organization in the United States, is uniquely positioned to reach the physicians who provide most of the care to adults," said Lynne M. Kirk, MD, chair of the ACP-ASIM Board of Governors. "Our 77 chapters, including chapters in the U.S. Air Force and Navy, will be the backbone to test and disseminate the new procedures."
The new ACP-ASIM project has a strong research component. "In keeping with ACP-ASIM's longtime interest in evidence-based medicine, the project will include pre-tests of physicians' information about patient safety, post-tests after participating in one of the new education modules, and a randomized control group," said Christel Mottur-Pilson, PhD, director of ACP-ASIM's scientific policy department and principal investigator.
The effort will be funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). "ACP-ASIM will help us identify the causes of medical errors and develop effective solutions to strengthen quality of care nationwide," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "Nothing could be more important than making sure patients receive quality care that doesn't cause unintended harm. Our investment in this kind of research will pay off in terms of improved patient safety for all Americans."
The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, is the second-largest physician group in the United States. It is dedicated to the advancement of internal medicine so that its members can provide the best quality care for their patients.
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