$600,000 grant helps create patient center

After competing against colleges across the nation, such as Johns Hopkins University and Harvard, USF was awarded a grant to start a patient safety center. The patient center will benefit the safety of the elderly population and the education of USF students.

Anne DeLotto Baier, spokesperson for the Health Sciences Center, said the patient safety center will investigate what leads elderly patients to health risks, such as falls and medication errors so doctors can help prevent these risks.

DeLotto Baier said $600,000 was given to USF from $50 million that was distributed to universities around the country. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality gave the money to USF so partners can design studies together and receive more funding.

DeLotto Baier said the money received for the center is just the beginning and it may get the opportunity to receive more money after more research begins.

The patient safety center, called Suncoast Developmental Center for Patient Safety Evaluation and Research, will allow partners in the center to collect data from hospitals to find the risks for falling.

“The parties will work to find answers to questions,” DeLotto Baier said.

Jay Wolfson, the principal investigator of the safety center, said there are a number of partners along with USF that will work together to better understand the health risks of the elderly.

Some partners include Veteran’s Administration, Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Eckerd Drug Corporation. The partners made it possible for the research center to open on Oct. 3.

“With all the partners together, it was designated as a research center,” Wolfson said. “Together the partners will identify the sources of data to better understand falls and medication errors.”

Wolfson said since Tampa has a large and rapid growing elderly population it was important that USF receive the grant to research the community’s health. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 17 percent of Florida’s population is 65 or older.

“The patient safety is challenging among the elderly,” Wolfson said. “They tend to be more vulnerable to health risks.”Wolfson said the biggest problem with elderly patients falling is the financial problems that arise from hip replacements, lawsuits and health status.

“If patients break a bone the health status declines dramatically,” Woflson said.

Medical errors can result from patients having multiple physicians that don’t share information or a prescription that may have an adverse result influencing the risk of falling.Wolfson said the research of health risks will take place at the VA Patient Safety Center in Tampa and USF’s College of Public Health.

He said physicians, nurses and social workers will review data together to look at the analysis of risk factors and frequency of falls.

Wolfson said he also expects the patient safety center to give masters and doctoral students at USF the opportunity to practice medical research. He said the center will have about four projects each year that students can use for their dissertations and theses.

“It’s a great opportunity for nursing and medical students,” Wolfson said. “It’s a mission to serve the most pronounced needs of our community.”

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