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Understanding the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act

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By: Susanne S. Warfield
Posted: May 3, 2010, from the May 2010 issue of

Abstract: The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) aims to aid patients by increasing the availability to data needed to resolve safety and health issues. Consequently, this has a significant impact on the medical industry, creating the need for a comprehensive understanding of patient rights protected by HIPAA, as well as through additional privacy, security and safety rules. Knowing the medical community’s responsibilities when it comes to federal health privacy regulations, and reporting any violations thereof, can ensure your practice a distinct safety of its own.

Federal civil rights laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule together protect patients’ fundamental rights of nondiscrimination and privacy. Subsequently, the regulation implementing the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) was published on Nov. 21, 2008, and became effective on Jan. 19, 2009, (42 C.F.R. Part 3).

PSQIA establishes a voluntary reporting system to enhance the data available to assess and resolve patient safety and health care quality issues. It also encourages the reporting and analysis of medical errors. It is the federal government’s hope that this confidentiality provision will improve patient safety outcomes by creating an environment in which reporting of patient safety events will yield increased data and better understanding of the issues to improve patient safety.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has been requiring HIPAA-covered entities to promptly notify affected individuals of a breach of security since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act passed in 2009.

Rules to understand

The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides federal protection for personal health information held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. In other words, it says who can look at and receive health information, and also gives the patient specific rights over that information.