Industry Organization Supports Principles for Patient-Safety Reporting Programs

Rockville, Md. -- The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP) announced today its support for the General Principles for Patient Safety Reporting Systems. These principles were developed and approved by a working group of nearly 100 national organizations representing healthcare professionals and other health organizations.

The working group has developed a set of general principles that it believes are essential for patient safety reporting systems. These principles encourage the reporting and evaluation of healthcare error information and the sharing of such information with others. NCC MERP believes that healthcare professionals and organizations should be encouraged to report, evaluate and prevent healthcare errors as well as to share their experiences with others.

"It is essential that hospitals, healthcare systems and healthcare providers work together to encourage reporting of medication errors," said John Combes, MD, chair of NCC MERP and delegate from the American Hospital Association (AHA). "Only through such joint efforts can the culture of blame be diminished and success be measured. We all are invested in ensuring patients receive the best care possible in the safest environment."

The principles underscore the point that, for error reporting systems to be effective, they must be non-punitive, provide appropriate confidentiality and legal protections, and facilitate learning about errors and their solutions.

The principles are:

1. Creating an Environment for Safety. There should be a nonpunitive culture for reporting healthcare errors that focuses on preventing and correcting systems failures and not on individual or organization culpability.

2. Data Analysis. Information submitted to reporting systems must be comprehensively analyzed to identify actions that would minimize the risk that reported events recur.

3. Confidentiality. Confidentiality protections for patients, healthcare professionals, and healthcare organizations are essential to the ability of any reporting system to learn about errors and effect their reduction.

4. Information Sharing. Reporting systems should facilitate the sharing of patient safety information among healthcare organizations and foster confidential collaboration with other healthcare reporting systems.

5. Legal Status of Reporting System Information. The absence of federal protection for information submitted to patient safety reporting systems discourages the use of such systems, which reduces the opportunity to identify trends and implement corrective measures. Information developed in connection with reporting systems should be privileged for purposes of federal and state judicial proceedings in civil matters, and for purposes of federal and state administrative proceedings, including with respect to discovery, subpoenas, testimony, or any other form of disclosure.

NCC MERP believes that all five of these principles are essential elements of any effective patient safety reporting system. The council hopes that the principles will be informative to healthcare organizations, associations, and policymakers and encourages others to embrace and support them.

To request a copy of the General Principles for Patient Safety Reporting Systems send an email to [email protected]

The NCC MERP was founded in 1995 to promote the reporting, understanding and prevention of medication errors. The council comprises health-related organizations, societies and agencies, including medicine, pharmacy and nursing groups, consumer groups, standards-setting and federal regulatory bodies, and manufacturers.

Source: NCC MERP

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