House Ways and Means Committee Approves Medical Errors Bill
The House Ways and Means Committee yesterday approved a bill (HR 4889) that would establish "confidential, voluntary data banks" to store and study medical error data and help error-prevention efforts, CongressDaily/AM reports (Rich, CongressDaily/AM, 9/19). 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, 9/13). The confidentiality stipulations were included "for fear that, without them," hospitals and other caregivers would not use the data bank because of concerns that reports to the PSOs could be used for "unwarranted lawsuits against those who made errors," according to CongressDaily/AM. The bill would not prevent any states with existing error reporting systems from collecting data and "using it as they wished." The bill also would not stop individuals from filing legal "discovery" actions under current law "to get information directly from hospitals and other caregivers." Some Democrats wanted to make public the errors reported to "pressur[e] hospitals and others to improve quality of care," but they conceded this point because Republicans had enough votes to stop the measure. The bill was approved 33-4 (CongressDaily/AM, 9/19).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.