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May 30, 2000

Laura Lewis

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-2162, 650/604-9000;

VA Office of Public Affairs; Phone: 202/273-6000

Release: 00-44AR


A new system to improve patient safety was initiated today when senior officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed an agreement to create a VA Patient Safety Reporting System to document health-care errors and "close calls" in VA health-care facilities.

The agreement commits both agencies to work together to create a voluntary external patient safety reporting system for VA. That reporting system will be operated by NASA and modeled after the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) that NASA operates for the Federal Aviation Administration. NASA’s Ames Research Center, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, will operate the VA Patient Safety Reporting System under a Memorandum of Agreement between the two agencies.

"We will use our experience operating the Aviation Safety Reporting System to develop the VA’s Patient Safety Reporting System," said Dr. Henry McDonald, Director of NASA Ames, who signed the agreement on behalf of NASA. "The new system will use data reported by healthcare providers in the front line of patient care. I am confident that it will enable the VA to set new standards for patient safety and further improve the quality of health care in this country."

"This agreement harnesses the expertise of two federal agencies to improve the health care available to our nation’s veterans and, ultimately, to all Americans," concurred Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, the VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health and signatory on behalf of that agency.

VA operates 172 medical centers across the country and last year treated 3.3 million patients. In 1997, VA began consolidating its long-standing patient safety programs and created in 1998 the National Center for Patient Safety.

Ames Research Center is NASA’s lead center for Information Technology, Aviation Capacity, and Aerospace Operation Systems. It has operated the ASRS since it was established in 1976. The system collects aviation operation reports submitted from pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, mechanics and others that are involved in, or observe, an incident or situation which may compromise aviation safety. All submissions are voluntary and held in strict confidence. (Please click here to see a fact sheet about the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).)

"I am very proud of our proven ability with the ASRS to effectively communicate with government and industry alike from an independent position of trust " said Linda Connell, manager of the ASRS at NASA Ames. "This has given us the experience, trust and acceptance to act as the developer of the VA’s new Patient Safety Reporting System."

More information about the ASRS can be found at:



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