Bill proposes new reporting requirements

HHS would review mergers, acquisitions

If passed, the federal Patient Safety Act of 1997 (H.R. 1165) will require, as conditions for Medicare participation, that:

• Health care institutions make public specific information on nurse staffing levels, staff mix, and patient outcomes. Included are:

— numbers of RNs providing direct care;

— numbers of unlicensed personnel providing direct care;

— average number of patients per RN;

— patient mortality;

— incidence of adverse incidents;

— methods used for determining and adjusting staffing levels;

— complaints filed with a state agency, the Health Care Financing Administration, or an accrediting agency related to Medicare conditions of participation and results.

• Whistle-blower language be added to Medicare law to protect from possible retribution nurses who report or voice concern about unsafe patient conditions.

• Mergers and acquisitions be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to look at long-range issues related to the health and safety of patients, the community, and employees and to block any transaction if the department concludes that there would be a negative impact on health and safety. Included are:

— primary, acute, and emergency services;

— services for mothers, children, and the elderly;

— services to other specific populations, such as uninsured, ethnic minority, disabled, and gay;

— services related to prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV and related disease, mental health, and substance abuse;

— social and community services.