President George Bush has signed into law a bill that will create a national database on medical errors, designate individual reports as confidential, and protect healthcare providers from liability. The bill passed the House Wednesday and the Senate last week.
Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals remarked, The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act will foster this culture (of patient safety) by removing legal roadblocks, thereby allowing healthcare providers to focus upon solving problems rather than worrying about lawsuits. Kahn added that the near-unanimous vote in the House, as well as the Senate approval of companion legislation, underscores the deep bipartisan support for this important bill.
American Medical Association (AMA) president J. Edward Hill, MD, who attended the signing of the bill, stated, "Today's signing of patient safety legislation into law is a victory for America's patients and the physicians who serve them. The American Medical Association commends President Bush for acting quickly to sign this legislation into law. Hill adds, "The healthcare community has long been committed to improving patient safety, and significant progress has been made through new technology, research and education. This patient safety law is the catalyst we need to transform the current culture of blame and punishment into one of open communication and prevention. When physicians can report errors in a voluntary and confidential manner, everyone benefits. Future errors can be avoided as we learn from past mistakes. This law strikes the proper balance between confidentiality and the need to ensure responsibility throughout the healthcare system. Today's signing ceremony is the culmination of years of hard work by the AMA and its patient safety partners. The true winners today are our patients, who will benefit from improved safety and quality healthcare nationwide."