Jason Adelman, Inaugural Director of the Center for Patient
Safety Science, Focuses on Advances & Innovations to Improve Safety

Research in patient safety seeks a path of rapid, continuous improvement and the development and testing of responsive interventions and programs to drive advances in healthcare delivery. The new Columbia University Center for Patient Safety Science (CPSS), led by DBMI associate professor Jason Adelman MD, MS, sets a mission to move Columbia University Irving Medical Center towards zero preventable patient harm and establish Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital as national leaders in patient safety science through pioneering research, comprehensive education, and effective implementation.

CPSS will bring together experts from Columbia University’s

Jason Adelman MD, MS

many schools, cultivating interdisciplinary collaboration and creating innovative patient safety solutions. Through informatics and health IT, there is a great opportunity to develop innovative, scalable, and practical solutions to real-world safety problems that can be replicated locally and nationally to improve safety for all patients.

Adelman, Associate Dean for Quality and Patient Safety at Columbia University, and Director of the Center for Patient Safety Science, envisions this new initiative as achieving three major goals in this critical area of healthcare.

“First is research, where we can critically evaluate cutting edge health IT safety interventions and develop junior faculty who are actively engaged in our focus on informatics to reduce harm,” Adelman said. “Another is education; we want to educate all hospital personnel, from senior leadership to frontline clinicians to outpatient office staff in fostering a positive safety culture. When responding to errors, you focus on the system, not just the error. Finally, we are supporting the operations within the hospital, so we can facilitate alignment between our researchers and clinicians and design systems that improve patient safety outcomes.”

Adelman, who was recently awarded the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Individual Achievement Award from The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum, has achieved major breakthroughs in the realm of patient safety. He designed the Wrong-Patient Retract-and-Reorder (RAR) Measure—an automated, validated, and reliable method of quantifying the frequency of wrong-patient orders placed in electronic ordering systems — which led to national patient safety standards.

Both Katrina Armstrong, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and James M. McKiernan, MD, Senior Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, recently introduced the Center, which collaborates with Columbia’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, Irving Institute, and Data Science Institute, as well as with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins University, Mothers Against Medical Error, and others.

“The dedication of Katrina Armstrong and Jim McKiernan to advance synergy in this field will produce significant strides in patient outcomes,” Adelman said of CPSS. “Safety culture has become a major focus at our institution and around the country, and continues to expand in the needs it seeks to address, including evaluating emerging technologies. For example, I believe that AI will lead to huge advances in patient safety protocols and improved outcomes, and the Center can play a key role in rigorously evaluating AI tools for their safety, effectiveness, and relevance to clinical care before putting them into practice.”

The CPSS vision is to ‘be an international leader in the innovation, implementation, and dissemination of replicable, scalable, and evidence-based solutions to improve equitable patient care and achieve zero preventable harm.’

This federally funded and hospital-supported Center has already assembled a leadership team, but it will also have access to a vast core of researchers and clinicians both within Columbia University Irving Medical Center and beyond. This collaboration will drive innovative research and pilot projects developed within the Center, as well as the quality and safety training academy that will develop a standardized curriculum for Columbia faculty, nurses, postdocs, medical assistants, students, and house staff. Ideally, this will develop the next generation of both researchers and best practices that are able to significantly reduce patient harm.

As part of the educational initiative, the Center will welcome as many as three physicians from various specialties to join its two-year Columbia University Patient Safety and Health Services Research Fellowship. This postdoctoral research fellowship offers over 80% protected time for research and tuition funds for a Master of Science degree in a research-oriented field such as Epidemiology, Clinical Research Methods, or Patient-Oriented Research at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Another significant tri-institutional collaboration led by Columbia — The EQUIP Center for Learning Health System (LHS) Science — will provide new or early stage researchers with funding, education, training, mentorship, tools, and resources to successfully complete a systemwide LHS research project and build a foundation of knowledge and skills to pursue future LHS research, and train, fund, and support embedded LHS Scientists by leveraging complementary and multidisciplinary strengths.

“I am excited about the wide range of potential outcomes that can be achieved through all the initiatives emanating from this Center,” Adelman said. “Advances in healthcare can be achieved in many exciting ways, and we need to ensure this translates to positive effects on patient safety, quality, and equity as well.”

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