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SEATTLE – (Aug. 6, 2014) – The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has approved a $2 million grant to fund a study at Virginia Mason and Seattle Children’s Hospital that will explore the role patients and their family members can play in detecting, preventing and recovering from medical errors.

During the five-year study, researchers from Virginia Mason, Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington will identify ways to increase patients’ and their caregivers’ ability to recognize potential safety issues and help them manage their health care information and concerns. They also want to determine strategies to support and encourage clear, safety-related communication between patients and health care providers.

Medical errors cause thousands of deaths every year and preventing such mistakes has long been a focus of physicians, nurses and others. Through this new study, the role patients and their families can have in improving the safety of medical care will be thoroughly explored.

“We are eager to do everything necessary and possible to further improve patient safety,” said Barry Aaronson, MD, a hospitalist and informaticist who will lead the research at Virginia Mason. “Safety is one of our highest priorities.”

Wanda Pratt, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Washington Information School, is the principal investigator for the study. The research team hopes to collaborate with organizations such as the National Patient Safety Foundation to better understand how its findings could shape patient-safety policies, procedures and technology across the United States.

Virginia Mason is rated as one of the safest hospitals in the U.S. by The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization using the collective leverage of employers and other large purchasers of health care to drive improvements in safety, quality, transparency and affordability. Virginia Mason has received an “A” for patient safety in Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score program four times since the program was launched in 2012.

AHRQ is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

About Virginia Mason
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety.

To learn more about Virginia Mason, please visit or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

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