MEDICAL ERRORS: New Legislation Introduced in Senate
Hoping to address the problem of medical mistakes, Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations subcommittee Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking member Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) Tuesday introduced the Medical Error Reduction Act, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. The Institute of Medicine last year issued a study which reported that medical mistakes kill an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 American each year. "This is something that cries out for us to do something immediately," Harkin said. The legislation would include a series of 15 demonstration programs at individual hospitals to "test alternative ways to report medical mistakes." Of the 15, five of the demonstrations would require that medical errors be reported, although the information would be kept confidential; five would include voluntary reporting with information kept confidential; and five would have mandatory reporting combined with disclosure to patients and families. Specter noted that he would consider working with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to explore solutions. Although Specter's committee has no authorizing power on the issue, he did hold hearings in December while Congress was in recess, and on Jan. 25, the day the federal government was closed by inclement weather (Rover, 2/9).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.