Pa Patient Saf Advis 2010 Sep;7(3):111-2.
Satisfying Educational Needs with the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Web Site

Robert A. Yonash, RN

Robert A. Yonash, RN
Patient Safety Liaison, Southwest Region
Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority

Editor's Note

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority has refreshed its website (; the following article refers to a previous iteration of the Authority's site. The refreshed site features enhanced navigation and search features, a new look and feel, and mobile responsiveness (read more here).


During my initial visits with patient safety officers (PSOs) in the southwest region of the state, the need for patient safety resources and education was a recurring theme. When PSOs, other facility staff, and I have discussed this concern in detail during my visits, we find that this need can be satisfied through the content on the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority Web site.

The redesigned Web site is a repository of information for facility staff. However, facility staff members may be unaware of all the site has to offer. During a 2009 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) user survey conducted by the Authority, participants, including acute facility PSOs, were asked “How often do you visit the Patient Safety Authority Web site, excluding reporting through PA-PSRS?” Of 568 respondents, 156 (27.6%) stated that they had visited the Web site “less often than monthly,” 147 (25.9%) stated that they had visited the Web site “monthly,” and 131 (23.1%) stated that they had visited the Web site “2 or 3 times a month.”

When I demonstrate the Web site during my facility visits, staff are amazed at the features available to them. Many comment that they were unaware of the number of searchable patient safety research articles (nearly 350); the patient safety toolkits (e.g., checklists, posters, video modules) associated with the articles; or the available Consumer Tips, which engage patients and their families to help prevent medical errors. During a recent visit, a staff member said, “I really haven’t been on the Web site for quite a while. In the past, there really wasn’t much content available and it was scattered. Now that the Advisory articles are searchable and the educational information is grouped in the Patient Safety Tools section, I will definitely use it more often and let my colleagues know about it.”

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the Web site highlights.

Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory Articles

Articles from the Authority’s Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory offer a wealth of data gleaned from actual events received from Pennsylvania facilities through PA-PSRS, the Authority’s Web-based event reporting system. So that Authority Web site users are always presented with the most up-to-date information, the home page links to synopses of articles from the most recent Advisory issue.

Most know that the Authority Web site houses the Advisory in an archive format; however, all Advisory articles are also available through the search engine and in an indexed, browsable format. The search engine allows users to search all Advisory articles on a subject of the user’s choice. The “Browse by Topic” feature—located on the upper, right side of the home page and throughout the site—allows the user to retrieve information on a variety of topics. Users can browse by discipline, audience, care setting, event, or patient safety focus. For example, by selecting “Discipline," users can drill down through a variety of disciplines (e.g., critical care, infectious diseases, pediatrics) to a relevant list of Advisory articles, as well as “Patient Safety Tools” and “Consumer Tips.”

PSOs can also use the Web site to disseminate select topics. Upon e-mail notification that the Authority has published a new Advisory issue, PSOs can review the online Advisory table of contents and selectively route specific articles of interest to individuals using the “Email to a Friend” feature located on the right sidebar of any Advisory article. While this method works well in the facilities that I visit, the Authority also supports direct readership by all interested staff. PSOs are encouraged to share the “Subscribe to the Advisories” link available throughout the Web site with anyone who is interested in increasing knowledge about patient safety topics.

Patient Safety Tools

Sometimes, while developing an article for the Advisory, Authority analysts discover a need to develop a specific tool or collection of tools to address a patient safety concern (e.g., a checklist to assess patient information, medical documentation, and surgical information before a surgical procedure). The resulting tool or toolkits (e.g., self-assessment tools, posters, brochures, links to other resources) enhance the associated Advisory article. The toolkits are accessible from anywhere on the Web site through the left-hand navigation bar by scrolling to “Educational Tools” and selecting “Patient Safety Tools.” The toolkits are also individually indexed under the “Browse by Topic” feature. For example, the Authority maintains a toolkit, “Preventing Wrong-Site Surgery,” that includes all of the Authority’s work to date on this topic, such as Advisory articles, error analysis forms, a video, data snapshots, and more. Select tools can be disseminated to others by the “Email to a Friend” feature, as stated earlier, and could provide valuable information to numerous facility committees.

Consumer Tips

PSOs and facility staff members have also expressed interest in educational materials targeted at patients. The “Patients and Consumers” area of the Web site includes “Consumer Tips” on topics derived directly from data received from Pennsylvania facilities. The “Consumer Tips” are designed to educate patients and their families about a variety of high-focus patient safety topics and actively engage them as advocates in their own healthcare. The “Consumer Tips” are presented in reader-friendly format that can be read online, disseminated by the “Email to a Friend” feature, or printed for distribution. I have seen evidence of Consumer Tip usage during facility visits in patient/family waiting areas, elevators, and inpatient admission and discharge packets.

Scratching the Surface

The Authority Web site is a valuable tool for PSOs, healthcare workers, or anyone interested in patient safety topics. The content examples discussed are just a sample of a vast array of useful information contained in the Web site. The individual usage related to the Authority Web site varies from person to person, but there is a clear need to increase awareness of this established patient safety resource. 

Supplemental Material

Continuing Education Associated with the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory

Pennsylvania registered nurses and physicians can receive continuing education credits by reading select Pennsylvania Patient SafetyAdvisory articles. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority has teamed up with the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and the Pennsylvania Medical Society to offer the credits by reading select articles on each entity’s Web site. For more information on these continuing education opportunities, visit the respective Web sites at and


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