James W. Saxton, ESQ, Maggie M. Finkelstein, ESQ, and Stephanie Sher Unger, ESQ
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines patient safety as “the freedom from accidental or preventable injuries produced by medical care . . . [P]ractices or interventions that improve patient safety are those that reduce the occurrence of preventable adverse events.” Patient safety is a well-established concept in contemporary healthcare. What is new is today’s intense focus on safety as a quality improvement strategy and the fact that it is more and more linked to both economic improvement and liability reduction. Test tracking, a new “serious reportable event,” provides a valuable test case for understanding how patient safety strategies can improve patient care and the bottom line and decrease the potential for liability.