Background: A study was conducted in 2004 to determine if 26 interventions--distributed among nine patient safety areas and as recommended by an expert panel as relevant to rural hospitals--would be validated in terms of relevance and implementability for small and rural facilities.
Methods: The chief executive officers (CEOs) and/or key managers responsible for patient safety activities in a diverse group of 29 small and rural hospitals assessed the potential effectiveness and feasibility of the 26 interventions. Representatives of 25 hospitals participated in structured, follow-up phone discussions.
Results: Adverse drug events were the highest-priority area for 14 hospitals, followed by patient falls (selected by 5 hospitals). Some hospitals had already implemented intervention 1 (use at least two patient identifiers) and intervention 6 (read back of verbal orders) and thus ranked them highly, especially for implementability. Intervention 3 (24-hour pharmacist coverage) was ranked low, especially on implementability. Interventions involving health information technology were ranked lower by the hospitals than by the expert panel.
Discussion: Safety interventions should reflect the general state of the science of safe practices while incorporating relevant contextual issues unique to rural hospitals. The results have important implications for survey and accreditation activity, and the focus of technical assistance and research efforts.