House Subcommittee Approves Bill Seeking To Reduce Medical Errors Through Voluntary Reporting
The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee yesterday approved by voice vote a "controversial" bill (HR 4889) that would establish "private health data banks" to store confidential medical error information and help identify ways to avoid future errors, CongressDaily/AM reports (Rich, CongressDaily/AM, 9/13). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), calls for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to voluntarily report medical errors to data banks called patient safety organizations. The organizations would analyze the reports and suggest ways to prevent future errors. All reports would remain confidential and could not be used in malpractice lawsuits (California Healthline, 9/11). Republicans clarified that the confidentiality provisions only apply to information submitted to the data banks. Patients still could obtain medical error information directly from hospitals and other providers for use in lawsuits, if permitted under state law, CongressDaily/AM reports. About half of states have medical error reporting systems, which patients can access. During the subcommittee hearing, however, Democrats including Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Reps. Gerald Kleczka (D-Wis.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said they support "disclosure, not confidentiality." Stark said, "This is a nothing bill" (CongressDaily/AM, 9/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.