This article is from the Journal for Healthcare Quality (JHQ). The full article is available to NAHQ members. Join NAHQ or log in to access.

Authors: Oberlander, Tyler; Scholle, Sarah Hudson; Marsteller, Jill; Barr, Michael S.; Dy, Sydney Morss


Although most patient–clinician interactions occur in ambulatory care, little research has addressed measuring ambulatory patient safety or how primary care redesign such as the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) addresses patient safety. Our objectives were to identify PCMH standards relevant to patient safety, construct a measure of patient safety activity implementation, and examine differences in adoptions of these activities by practice and community characteristics. Using a consensus process, we selected elements among a widely adopted, nationally representative PCMH program representing activities that, according to a physician panel, represented patient safety overall and in four domains (diagnosis, treatment delays, medications, and communication and coordination) and generated a score for each. We then evaluated this score among 5,007 practices with the highest PCMH recognition level. Implementation of patient safety activities varied; the few military practices (2.4%) had the highest, and community clinics the lowest, patient safety score, both overall (82.0 and 72.0, respectively, p < .001) and across specific domains. Other practice and community characteristics were not associated with the patient safety score. Understanding better what factors are associated with implementation of patient safety activities may be a key step in improving ambulatory patient safety.

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