Stalled Medical Errors Legislation Examined
CongressDaily on Monday looked at how legislation that would address medical errors has stalled in Congress. The House about one year ago voted 418-6 to approve a bipartisan patient safety bill (HR 663). While members of Congress say that medical error legislation could lead to better care and fewer medical malpractice lawsuits, they remain divided over two different bills. The House bill would create "patient safety organizations" that would collect and analyze confidential reports of medical mistakes and suggest ways to avert future errors (Rovner, CongressDaily, 4/5). Any information reported to PSOs would remain confidential. The House bill would give the HHS secretary the authority to "demand access to regional patient safety groups' data" (California Healthline, 7/21/03). The Senate bill was drafted by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and other "leading Senate players," according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 4/5). The proposal also would set up a patient safety database, but it would not require regional groups to report patient safety lapses. The proposal would not protect the identities of those reporting errors (California Healthline, 7/13/03). Both bills are "stalled over the same issue blocking malpractice legislation and the patients' bill of rights before that -- lawsuits," CongressDaily reports. Supporters of the bills both say that the legislation would neither create more opportunities for medical malpractice lawsuits nor shield information that could be used in negligence cases now. Anne Ubl of the American Hospital Association, which has thrown its support behind both bills, said, "We don't see them as [having] major differences." But Ami Gadhia, assistant legislative counsel at Consumers Union, said the group has problems with both bills, adding, "This is not the philosophical approach we would take" (CongressDaily, 4/5).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.