||Navigating Health Care: Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Councils
Rand: More and more, patients are becoming some of the strongest and most
articulate advocates for patient safety improvements. And hospitals and other
health care organizations are inviting them to be a part of the team in
community-based patient safety advisory councils. Now here to talk with us about
these groups and what they do is AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy. Welcome, Dr.
Dr. Clancy: Thank you.
Rand: So what is a community-based patient safety advisory council?
Dr. Clancy: A community-based patient safety advisory council is a group
of patients and clinicians who come together as a team to identify ways to
improve patient safety in organizations. As a team, the council sets goals based
on the needs of their community. For example, patients have a chance to
participate in meetings in which hospital policies are set.
Rand: Do you need to have a negative experience, like a medial error, to
participate with a patient safety advisory council?
Dr. Clancy: No. People who have experienced major or life-changing events
are often very vocal and very driven to participate in these types of groups
because they want to speak out and be heard, and that’s great. But other
patients with different experience should participate, too, because a diverse
group is important. These types of councils do best when there are members who
are willing to share their experiences - both good and bad.
Rand: So who benefits from these advisory councils?
Dr. Clancy: On this team, everyone benefits. Patients learn effective
ways to reduce their health care risks. For example, they learn how in some
cases they can avoid a medication error by asking questions if something doesn’t
seem right. It’s important to note that patients really appreciate being part of
the process, discussions, and decision-making. Also, they provide some really
valuable input to the council and that, in turn, benefits the hospital and its
clinicians. When they better understand the patient’s perspective, they can
provide higher-quality care.
Rand: And what is AHRQ’s role in this area?
Dr. Clancy: AHRQ funded a guide that teaches health care organizations
how to create community-based patient safety advisory councils. Aurora Health
Care worked with several clinics in Wisconsin on the project, and also partnered
with a consumer group called Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, as well as
Midwest Airlines. The guide is a really a toolkit for hospital officials to use,
because it provides templates, checklists and resources describing how to create
and sustain a community-based patient advisory council.
Rand: Dr. Carolyn Clancy, thank you so much for joining us to talk about
how patients can get involved in making health care safer.
Dr. Clancy: My pleasure. These are really important teams, and I hope
that consumers listening will consider committing some of their time and energy
to one of these teams at their nearby hospital. And if they don’t have a patient
advisory council, then be sure to speak up. As a consumer, you get what you’re
looking for in your health care by taking an active role. I strongly encourage
consumers to go to their clinicians and say, "I want to be an active partner on
my health care team. How can we work together to make this happen?"
Rand: To access the Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety
Advisory Council online, visit