National Quality Forum to audit 2010 safe practices

The National Quality Forum (NQF) will conduct an internal review in response to recent conflict-of-interest allegations, according to a report from the group.

The NQF released the report today in the wake of a $40.1 million Justice Department settlement with CareFusion Corp. in January. The settlement resolved allegations that CareFusion paid Charles Denham, M.D., co-chair of the NQF's Safe Practices Committee at the time, more than $11 million to promote one of its products.

In response to this settlement, the report states, NQF will:

  • Audit its 2010 update of the Safe Practices for Better Healthcare report

  • Review conflict-of-interest policies with board members, committee members and staff 

  • Reevaluate its sponsorship guidelines

NQF has assembled a slate of experts to lead the audit committee, including Center for Medical Consumers Executive Director Arthur Levin, Partners HealthCare Chief Clinical Officer Gregg Meyer, M.D., and Jeff Hageman, executive secretary of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. The slate is currently open for public comment, according to the report.

The audit will consist of an evidence review by NQF staff, a review of both the safe practices and NQF staff recommendations and a two-week member and public comment period, according to the report. NQF expects it will have the full audit report available for comment by the end of March.

"In this review, NQF was guided by two important realities. First, the quality and patient safety communities must be constantly mindful of the ever-changing healthcare climate; how consequential endorsement is; and the increasingly high stakes for quality measures and safe practices," the report states. "Second, NQF must be ever vigilant in identifying conflicts of interest (COI) and maintaining rigorous, objective processes that ensure the integrity of quality measures and safe practices."

Yesterday, NQF President and CEO Christine Cassel, M.D., announced her resignation from the boards of Premier, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals over similar conflict-of-interest allegations, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)