Skip to Main Content
AHRQ Common Formats - Information for Hospitals and State Survey Agencies (SAs) - Comprehensive Patient Safety Reporting Using AHRQ Common Formats
Memo #
Posting Date
Fiscal Year
Hospitals are Required to Track Adverse Events: The Condition of Participation (CoP) for Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) at 42 CFR 482.21(a)(2) requires hospitals to track adverse patient events. However, several recent reports completed by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) indicated that hospitals fail to identify most adverse events. Use of the Common Formats May Help Hospitals Improve Tracking. The OIG suggested staff failure to understand what events need to be reported to the hospital’s QAPI program contributes to the problems with internal tracking systems. The OIG recommended that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could help hospitals improve their ability to track adverse patient safety events by disseminating information on AHRQ’s Common Formats. The Common Formats define a systematic process for reporting adverse events, near misses, and unsafe conditions, and allow a hospital to report harm from all causes. Hospital use of the AHRQ Common Formats is voluntary, but a hospital that uses them and is adept at the analysis that they permit will be in a better position to meet the CMS QAPI requirements. Common Formats version 1.2 can be accessed at Surveyors Should be Familiar with the Common Formats: Surveyors may increasingly encounter use of the Common Formats in hospital QAPI programs. We encourage all surveyors to develop a general understanding of this tool, and become knowledgeable regarding how providers may access the relevant information about Common Formats.