Senate Passes Bill To Establish Medical Error Reporting System
The Senate on Thursday by voice vote passed legislation to establish a confidential, voluntary system through which physicians and hospitals could report medical errors without facing legal ramifications, the AP/Omaha World-Herald reports (AP/Omaha World-Herald, 7/23). Under the bill, sponsored by Sens. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), doctors, hospitals and other health care providers could report errors to groups called Patient Safety Organizations (CongressDaily, 7/23). Those groups would be permitted to gather and analyze patient safety information to offer feedback on how to improve the health system (AP/Omaha World-Herald, 7/23). The legislation was prompted by a 1999 Institute of Medicine study that found that as many as 98,000 U.S. residents die annually from medical errors in hospitals. For the bill to become law, it has to be reconciled with similar legislation passed in 2003 by the House (Reuters/Arizona Daily Star, 7/23).
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "For even one American to die from an avoidable medical error is a tragedy," adding, "That thousands die every year is a national disgrace and an urgent call to action" (AP/Omaha World-Herald, 7/23). Gregg said, "Fear of lawsuits silences what should be constructive, life-saving dialogue among health providers. Creating an environment where information can be shared will benefit all patients" (Reuters/Arizona Daily Star, 7/23).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.