Leaders of ECRI and its affiliate, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), announce the launch of a joint Patient Safety Organization (PSO), an important step in making medication, medical devices, and healthcare practices safer for patients across all care settings, now during the COVID-19 pandemic, and into the future. The nonprofit organizations had each been federally designated PSOs since the program began in 2008.

The new ECRI and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices PSO combines the skills of ECRI, the global voice for solutions to minimize risk and improve the safety and quality of patient care, and ISMP, which has served as a vital force for preventing medication errors and driving change in medical practice and pharmaceutical products.

“Our new PSO is a single source for safety that’s unrivaled in the market place,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “Together, ECRI and ISMP bring up-to-date information and real-time guidance to assure healthcare leaders that they’re making the best decisions to keep patients, long-term care residents, and staff safe.”

By combining their two PSOs, ECRI and ISMP create one of the largest patient safety entities in the world. ECRI has more than 3.5 million analyzed events, including 10,000 related to COVID-19, submitted by the nation’s most respected health systems and providers across all care settings. ISMP is the worldwide leader in determining system-based causes of medication errors across the continuum of care, disseminating lessons learned, and creating impactful change in practice.

“This is an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty in healthcare, and frontline practitioners are being challenged by complex patient care needs and difficult medication safety compromises,” says ISMP President Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, FASHP. “The joining of ECRI and ISMP’s PSOs makes sense to create a truly collaborative approach to safety in the healthcare community for better patient outcomes.”

For example, in an effort to reduce nursing exposure, conserve PPE in short supply, and quickly respond to pump alarms, hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients moved bedside IV infusion pumps and administration sets into hallways outside patient rooms. The risks and challenges from this innovative process included potential shortage of extension tubing sets, more frequent alarms at high flow rates, and other technology challenges. ISMP medication safety experts and ECRI’s clinical engineering team worked together to provide real-time guidance to ensure safety for this technology work-around.

“Our joint PSO brings together global experts in medication safety, device errors, patient safety, risk, and quality, to support healthcare providers in real-time when they need it the most,” says Schabacker.

Patient Safety Organizations, created as part of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, enable individual providers and healthcare organizations to voluntarily report quality and patient safety information confidentially and without fear of legal discovery. Using this process, PSOs can help healthcare professionals learn from quality and patient safety concerns to prevent similar problems from happening in the future.