Tracking rates of Patient Safety Indicators over time: lessons from the Veterans Administration

Med Care. 2006 Sep;44(9):850-61. doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000220686.82472.9c.


Background: The Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs), developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, are useful screening tools for highlighting areas in which quality should be further investigated and providing useful benchmarks for tracking progress.

Objectives: Our objectives were to: 1) provide a descriptive analysis of the incidence of PSI events from 2001 to 2004 in the Veterans Health Administration (VA); 2) examine trends in national PSI rates at the hospital discharge level over time; and 3) assess whether hospital characteristics (eg, teaching status, number of beds, and degree of quality improvement implementation) and baseline safety-related hospital performance predict future hospital safety-related performance.

Methods: We examined changes in risk-adjusted PSI rates at the discharge level, calculated the correlation between hospitals' risk-adjusted PSI rates in 2001 with subsequent years, and developed generalized linear models to examine predictors of hospitals' 2004 risk-adjusted PSI rates.

Results: Risk-adjusted rates of 2 of the 15 PSIs demonstrated significant trends over time. Rates of iatrogenic pneumothorax increased over time, whereas rates of failure to rescue decreased. Most PSIs demonstrated consistent rates over time. After accounting for patient and hospital characteristics, hospitals' baseline risk-adjusted PSI rates were the most important predictors of their 2004 risk-adjusted rates for 8 PSIs.

Conclusions: The PSIs are useful tools for tracking and monitoring patient safety events in the VA. Future research should investigate whether trends reflect better or worse care or increased attention to documenting patient safety events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hospital Administration*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Discharge / trends
  • Pneumothorax / epidemiology
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / trends*
  • Safety*
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / trends*