Measuring Performance

Patient Safety Measures 

Project Status: Completed

National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Patient Safety

Access the Endorsement Summary (PDF) | Access the Full Report  

The Opportunity

Americans are exposed to more preventable medical errors than patients in other industrialized nations. Each year, 1.7 million infections occur in U.S. hospitals, accounting for nearly 99,000 associated deaths. It’s estimated that preventable errors cost the United States $17-$29 billion per year in healthcare expenses, lost worker productivity, and disability. As healthcare expenditures grow at more than seven percent each year, patient safety is improving by only one percent.

In November 2008, the National Priority Partnership (NPP) deemed Patient Safety as one of the six national priorities, with specific focus on reduction of hospital-level mortality rates, serious adverse events, and healthcare associated infections. Among the NQF inventory of 550 endorsed measures, approximately 100 measures relate to patient safety. In addition, NQF has endorsed 34 safe practices in the 2009 update of the Safe Practices for Better Healthcare and 28 Serious Reportable Events (SRE). The Safe Practices, SREs, and NQF-endorsed patient safety measures are important tools for tracking and improving patient safety performance in American healthcare. However, significant gaps remain in the measurement of patient safety. There is also a recognized need to expand available patient safety measures beyond the hospital setting and harmonize safety measures across sites and settings of care. In order to fill these gaps and to develop a more robust set of safety measures, NQF will be soliciting patient safety measures to fill gap areas and to address environment-specific issues with highest potential leverage for improvement (e.g., healthcare associated infections (e.g., MRSA), culture of safety, and hospital standardized mortality rates). 

About the Project 

NQF will convene a Patient Safety Measures Steering Committee to review submitted measures. An intent to call for patient safety-related measures was issued on November 23, 2009, the responses to which will help determine the expertise required for the Steering Committee and related technical panels. A full Call for Measures and a Call for  Nominations for Steering Committee members was issued on January 4, 2009.

Through the Call for Measures, NQF will solicit safety measures to fill gap areas and to address environment-specific issues with highest potential leverage for improvement. NQF is particularly interested in measures focused on healthcare associated infections (HAI), including MRSA.


Candidate practices and measures will be considered for NQF endorsement as national voluntary consensus standards. Agreement will be developed through NQF’s Consensus Development Process (CDP, version 1.8). This project will involve the active participation of representatives from across the spectrum of healthcare stakeholders and will be guided by a steering committee.


This project is funded under NQF's contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, Consensus-based Entities Regarding Healthcare Performance Measurement.

Related NQF Work 

Contact Information 

For further information, contact Andrew Lyzenga, MPP or Elisa Munthali, MPH at 202-783-1300 or via email at

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