New York Law School (NYLS) Launches the Patient Safety Project

New Project to be led by Steven Pegalis, J.D., and Irwin Merkatz, M.D.

New York (July 28, 2015) New York Law School today announced the formation of the Patient Safety Project (PSP), a groundbreaking initiative that will make important contributions to existing medical safety initiatives. As medical capability and complexity increase, health care professionals face greater challenges to the implementation of safety principles and to the delivery of quality care. The PSP will promote innovative health law policies as part of New York Law School’s mission and commitment to the public good.

The Patient Safety Project is co-directed by Steven Pegalis, who is a medical liability trial attorney, a member of the New York Law School’s Board of Trustees, and an Adjunct Professor at the Law School, and Dr. Irwin Merkatz, Emeritus Professor and Former Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Merkatz has been named a Senior Fellow in Health Law by New York Law School.

The PSP will be part of the Law School’s Impact Center for Public Interest Law.

NYLS’s Patient Safety Project is collecting anonymous fact patterns from closed medical liability cases, some of which have been obtained as part of a process authorized by the New York

State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration. These cases are being collected and organized as a database to promote discussion among health care providers. The process is unique and can only have a beneficial effect on safety because motivated health care providers want to be as safe as possible and therefore want to learn from errors that have in the past harmed patients.

Co-Directors Professor Pegalis and Dr. Merkatz, have assembled an esteemed group of advisors for the project that include individuals from national health organizations, hospitals, and medical liability insurance companies, each of whom has a special interest and expertise with regard to patient safety. With input and advice from the advisory group, the Project’s safety mission promises to be a productive additional part of existing safety processes.

“Safety to reduce the incidence of adverse patient outcomes, justice for those who sustained avoidable injuries, and spending health care funds wisely and fairly cover the scope of our NYLS mission,” said Professor Pegalis.

Issues of safety interact with evolving new issues of health law, policy, and compliance. NYLS’s developing Health Law Curriculum includes the study of liability, safety, and health law compliance with rapidly changing new policies. The advisors include NYLS faculty and others who already have begun to interact with the Project’s Co-Directors so that policies on the grandest scale (e.g., a projected payment to New York State of some $6 billion for a

Delivery System Reform Incentive-Payment (DSRIP) Plan) will be understood and processed as the law intends.

“The Patient Safety Project interacts powerfully with our academic program, which includes courses in health care compliance, health law, medical malpractice, elder law, individual privacy, mental disability law, women’s health, and social justice,” said Anthony W. Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School.

In undertaking this project, New York Law School will also work to engage the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, which is co-located with the Law School. The Simon Business School offers a master’s degree in Health Care Management. Later this year, New York Law School will unveil other programs as it establishes a new Health Law Institute.