On October 14, 2008, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice announcing the availability of an interim guidance document entitled “Implementing the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, Including How to Become a Patient Safety Organization.” The guidance document explains how HHS will begin implementing the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (Patient Safety Act), which is designed to encourage health care providers to voluntarily report patient safety information, medical errors, and “near misses” to Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs). In order to facilitate such disclosure, the law creates certain legal privilege and confidentiality protections for any patient safety work product (PSWP) either developed by a PSO or prepared by a health care provider and delivered to a PSO.   The new guidance explains how an entity can become a PSO, and how information may be protected as PSWP in the period prior to the promulgation of a final regulation that the agencies indicate will be issued before the end of 2008 (but that schedule is subject to change).  The interim guidance is effective October 14, 2008 until the effective date of a final rule.   While the final regulation will supersede this interim guidance, any information that became PSWP during this interim period based upon the Patient Safety Act criteria will remain PSWP, and thus privileged and confidential, after the interim period.