Health Policy

Patient Safety

Patient safety is an urgent health care challenge. In the United States each year, lapses in patient safety cause as many as 98,000 deaths and 1.5 million adverse drug events. 

Abt researches the scope and impact of patient safety issues. We also design, test, and evaluate interventions and system-level changes that prevent or mitigate risks. 

Abt’s patient safety team collaborates with federal health agencies, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We also work with non-governmental clients like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


Abt projects have addressed key patient safety issues in health care delivery and research in:

  • Patient safety hazards related to health information technology;
  • The effect of computerized-physician order entry on medication errors;
  • Improving health care teams’ communication with patients with limited English proficiency and limited health literacy;
  • The prevalence of drug-drug and drug-herb interactions;
  • Improving nursing home practices to prevent pressure ulcers and falls among the elderly, and improving antibiotic prescribing practices; and
  • The safety and efficacy of new vaccines.
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