Legislation targets patient safety, too

National Patient Safety Database to be created

The bar code proposal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t the only measure being lauded by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in Huntingdon Valley, PA. The safety organization also praises two bills recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

One bill addresses tort reform and places a cap on non-economic damages in lawsuits involving health care services. The other, the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2003 (HR 663), aims to improve reporting of patient safety information by assuring confidentiality and legal protection of information collected and shared with Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs). The secretary of Health and Human Services would certify a number of PSOs, including ISMP, to collect patient safety information and voluntarily submit non-identified information to a national Patient Safety Database for research.

The bill also calls for the adoption of standards that promote communication among clinical information technology (IT) systems and provides $25 million in grants in 2004 and 2005 for the application of electronic prescribing systems and other clinical IT systems.

In addition, the bill prohibits "patient safety work product" from: 1) being subject to a civil or administrative subpoena or order; 2) being required to be admitted as evidence in any state or federal civil or administrative proceeding; or 3) being used by a national accreditation organization in an accreditation action against the provider that reported the information, if the patient safety work product is identifiable information and is received by the accreditation organization its capacity as a patient safety organization.

For more information about HR 663, visit www.house.gov.